Q&A - What it’s really like to be a midwife

When a child first enters the world, there are three very important people in their life. The person, who carried the baby for 9 months, the birthing partner who supports this person throughout the journey and then there’s the midwife. The online definition of a midwife is surprisingly simple ‘a person who is trained to assist women in childbirth’, however as any parent knows the reality is, they do offer a service so special it cannot be defined by words alone. 

Although a lot of people do know how important a Midwife can be, it’s easy to overlook their tireless hard work. When you’re handed your child for the first time, you are overcome with emotion and you quickly realise that this is the beginning of your new life as a family. This moment is priceless, and nothing is more important, but your Midwife has been fortunate to witness this, time and time again, never letting this birth be any less important than the first time they helped deliver a child. Their enthusiasm and love for the job will never dwindle and their knowledge and support can help all parents, regardless of how many children you have had.

Midwives are unsung heroes who never ask for praise or reward. Midwives are givers, dedicating their lives to parents and children. Midwives are fountains of knowledge, who have seen it all and know all the answers. Where would expectant parents and newborn children be without them?

In the second of our #RealTalk series, we speak to the lovely Alice Piers, a Midwife who is fairly new to the career but who has already experienced a great deal! She chats to us about everything from the first birth she delivered to her coping mechanisms for such an emotionally demanding job.

What made you want to become a midwife, has it always been something you aspired to do? 

Becoming a Midwife was something I set my heart on in my late teenage years. I was actually influenced by watching programmes on TV about Midwifery. I researched into the career and was amazed, I thought this is something I would love to do. 

How long have you been doing this? 

I’ve been working as a Midwife for a year! 

Could you give us a quick overview of your role? 

This is a really hard question to answer because we do so much! A midwife provides antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care to women and their families. In my role as an intrapartum midwife, I am responsible to support the woman through labour, deliver babies and look after them in the immediate postnatal period. 

Does a particular baby or a story stand out in your memory? 

The first birth I ever saw was definitely one of my favourites. It was a lovely home birth in a living room, so calm. I remember I was in absolute admiration of the woman. It was so special, and I will never forget it.  

What would you say is the best part of your job? 

Forming relationships with women and helping them through one of the toughest but most exciting times of their lives. The best part is definitely handing parents their baby for the first time and watching their faces light up with joy. 

Could you briefly talk us through a typical day? 

I’m a Midwife working on The Birth Centre. We start shift at 7 am for a day shift, have a handover from the night team. The Midwife in Charge allocates Midwives to women. If a woman is in labour, I would take over her care and support her. If I deliver a baby, afterward I am responsible to provide postnatal care, complete mum and baby checks, help with feeding and then complete loads of paperwork! We tend to have a 30-minute break around midday and another 30-minute break late afternoon. 

The shifts are either long days 0700-1930 or long nights 1900-0730.

 As well as looking after babies a lot of your time is also spent supporting the parents, can you describe what this part of your job is like? 

Most of the work we do is supporting parents. We help with the recovery of mum and checking she’s emotionally and physically well. We support them to learn parenting skills like handling, bathing, feeding babies as well as providing advice on subjects like Safer Infant Sleeping. 

Do you ever struggle with the emotional side of the job and what mechanisms do you use to cope with this? 

Definitely. One of the main coping mechanisms is to have a really good support system. At work after a challenging situation or an emergency, we like to come together and have a debrief. This involves all the multi-professional team including midwives, care assistants, obstetricians, and anaesthetists. It can be so helpful to discuss the details of what happened, what went well and what we could do differently next time. There’s also a Professional Midwifery Advocate service available to Midwives for the chance to debrief and discuss how we’re feeling. 

What advice would you give to families and parents who are staying or visiting children in the ward? 

My advice to families who have just had babies is to cherish the time you have together. Ask people to give you space and time to bond with your new baby. Those first few days are so important, you’re getting feeding established, adjusting to baby life and having lots of medical check-ups. Visitors can wait and the first days you have as a family together you won’t ever get back. 

What’re the three words that best describe your job? 

Extraordinary. Challenging. Diverse.

This is the second part of the #RealTalk blog series from Isaac Anthony, creating beautiful premature babywear and organic baby clothing. 

Isaac Anthony was founded by the extremely talented Natalie Shore, who named the company after her two sons; Isaac who suffers from eczema and Anthony who after he was born spent some time in NICU. It was these experiences that inspired Natalie to create her own brand and help other parents in similar situations.

As well as supporting parents and mothers, Natalie also supports her local community in Manchester and in particular the hospitals and baby units and staff. Recently Natalie visited the St Marys hospital NICU Unit in Manchester where she met the staff and donated some Isaac Anthony clothing to the unit.

Isaac Anthony provides 3 premature babies sizes up to 3 years creating garments from the highest quality, breathable and delicate fabrics. Only using organic material sourced from ethical suppliers means everything produced has been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard.

Isaac Anthony always strives to celebrate and support everyone who plays a part in the birth and aftercare of babies.

Q&A - What it’s really like to be a midwife