Beware of Facebook!

Now you want to be a midwife, you need to think about how you are presenting yourself on Facebook and other social networking sites – Twitter, Tumblr etc.  When you start your course, your tutor will have a chat with the cohort (class) about what’s not acceptable for a midwife to do in public, e.g. drunken nakedness, or photos of same on Facebook.

Social networking is a big area of concern for Health Faculties right now, they are losing several students a year who make inadvisable comments on Facebook or Twitter. Basically, you can’t ever mention anything to do with work on a social network, as it’s considered to be the same thing as announcing it in public, even if your page is only visible to your family and close friends. The reason for that is to do with the fact that anybody can comment on your status and then it becomes  visible to anybody else. Once you have posted something on Facebook, it is considered to be in the public domain, and the same as shouting it in the middle of a crowded street, or emailing it to everybody in the world.

Think about your privacy settings on all your social networks, make sure they are set to the most restrictive settings, Friends Only for everything, before you apply to university. One reason for that is that employers have started to Google applicants, there is nothing to stop Universities from doing the same thing. Everything you’ve ever posted, going back several years, may still be accessible online to people searching your name. From now on, be very careful what you post, and think about your future career!

Google yourself, and see what comes up. It might surprise you! Lots of teachers and academics never have a Facebook profile, because of the difficulties of maintaining the proper professional distance from their pupils in this arena. The same problems apply to midwives, if your clients ever ask to ‘friend’ you, you can’t accept. There is a boundary between providing a service to somebody and becoming friends, which it is not professional to cross.

The NMC Code and Rules and Standards are useful when thinking about these issues, and they have also recently produced advice on social networking for nurses and midwives, if you’re concerned, have a read of this:

http://www.nmc-uk.org/social-networking-advice

How amazing is my job…

How many jobs are there where you get up in the morning and you’re excited to go to work?

Some days, when I’m on a low-risk placement, with a lovely mentor, I am just thrilled to be going to work, I can’t wait to get there. There is something amazing about this job, even in community, when it’s not all about births, it’s the more mundane everyday midwifery work, feeling squirmy babies in  tummies, chatting about women’s small aches and pains, reassuring them that everything is normal, sharing their fears and excitement about the upcoming birth, talking about names for the baby, having a laugh with the Dads.

English: A sleeping male baby with his arm ext...

Image via Wikipedia

I feel privileged to be doing this job, it’s such an intimate relationship we form with our women, a bond born out of a common fascination with birth that we share with them. I love seeing the same women week in, week out, getting to know their older kids, letting them play with the Pinard, listening in as a family to the baby’s heartbeat.

Sometimes we lose sight of how lucky we are to be in these women’s lives at this emotional time, it can become mundane, that’s why I enjoy talking to you guys, who are at the beginning of this amazing journey, you haven’t lost any of that awe at the incredibleness of birth! Or one of my friends at Uni reminds me of why we’re doing this, becoming the best midwives we can be, providing the care that women deserve, being caring and compassionate, and not intervening just for the sake of it, allowing women to find their own path on this journey, joining with them rather than leading them.

Being with woman, says it all.

Midwifery HEALTH WARNING!

I know that like I was, you are probably incredibly keen to become a student midwife, it’s all you can think about, you are constantly reading about midwifery, and talking about it, the prospect of applying to University is keeping you awake at night, rehearsing your interview over and over. You have nightmares where you forget to paste your Personal Statement into your UCAS form. I get it. But before I go any further, and talk about the amazing privilege it is to work with women, I have to post a health warning.

Midwifery is a tough course, with a steep learning curve, and is a bit like doing a full-time job, with a full-time degree in the evenings on top of it. While you are on placement, you may find you are ‘working’ 30 hours a week, attending Uni for a study day for 7 hours a week, and producing around 4 major assignments a year in your spare time. On top of that, there is also ‘homework’ or directed study to do between study days. Every single Uni day and every single placement day is compulsory, so if you are sick, or miss a day, you have to catch it up in your own time before the end of the year. If you miss a study day, you have to produce a piece of written work which shows you have understood everything that was taught on that day.

If you have children, and/or a partner, your family time is going to be seriously affected by the course, and achieving a work/life balance that suits everyone can be damn hard work. The other mature students that I know have fantastic family support, grandparents helping out with the kids 2 or 3 days a week, partners taking career breaks to mind the kids, and this support is essential, as you will be working unsociable hours, maybe starting at 7am, and finishing at 7.30pm, with travel time on top, as well as quite a few nights, and (most) weekends.

All the students I know, even the more youthful ones, say that the course takes something from your personal life, it can’t all survive intact, something’s got to give. We’ve all experienced quite a bit of anxiety as a result of the course, and we all have our own ways of dealing with that.

I just want you to be as prepared as you can be, so that you don’t find you have to drop out because you didn’t realise the strain that the course would put on you. In upcoming blogs, I’m going to talk about ways of planning your life so that the course is more manageable, I’m not in the business of putting anybody off, we need all the passionate and committed midwives we can get!