What’s it like to be a Student Midwife: Find out from someone who is one!

At Breakroom, we’ve had over 200,000 people tell us what their job is really like. This is the first in a series of articles from frontline workers telling us their stories about what a day actually looks like for them. 

Unfortunately, the job spec doesn't always tell you everything you need to know. So, we’ve reached out to some of our users to tell you what their work-life is like.

According to our data regarding midwives, the good is: 👍

  • 62% said they enjoy their job 

  • 100% said they are paid above the Real Living Wage

  • 86% said they get enough training 

However, there is still some way to go: 👎

  • 91% said they often feel stressed 

  • 82% said they don’t get proper breaks 

  • 79% said they do extra work that they’re not paid for

We wanted to talk to someone who was starting their journey into Midwifery and learn what their day is really like 👩‍🍼

This week we spoke to Ella who is in her first-year placement as a Student Midwife.👩‍⚕️

We discuss everything from work shifts and her day-to-day responsibilities to support and benefits.

So if you are looking at Midwifery as a career, find out what it’s really like to become one 👇

Ella image

What does a typical day look like for a Student Midwife? 

When I'm on placement, my typical day starts at about 6 am when I get up. I get ready and leave my flat by 7.30 am. Then I have to drive to my community placement or hospital placement which can take up to an hour. 

If I'm in the community, I get given what I'm doing that morning. We sit down in a team meeting and work out who's doing what. And it can literally be anything from postnatal visits to antenatal.

If I’m in the hospital I’ll be doing different things. So postnatal ward, for example, I'll be looking after mums and babies. Everything is different every single day. Every single shift is different. We could have a C-section mum who really can't walk, so they need a lot more help. We could have a mum that's come for a C-section and they can walk straight away. So any two experiences can be so different.

A lot of mums do find it difficult in the first few days of having a baby so we have to look after them a lot.

And that's what being a Midwife is like. There are different stories every single day.

My typical day in the community finishes around 6 pm to come home and relax, have some dinner, then shower, then do it all again the next morning. 

But if I'm on my hospital placement, then it'll probably finish around 7.45 pm and I get home around 9 pm.

What do you like most about your job?

Just looking after people. A lot of people think that Midwives just deliver babies but there's so much more. If you're working in postnatal, you're looking after a baby and you've actually got to help this mum. 

It's such a big change for parents. And especially in COVID. Half the time their partners couldn't even be there. So at that moment, they’re on their own, you've really got to be a friend. 

You make their day because you're really helping them out. So just helping people.

What are some of your biggest work struggles?

Definitely the tiredness! At the moment I'm on a lecture block. We do 5 weeks of placement and a four-week lecture block. You literally have so many lectures in a day and then they add a lot of work to do in my free time as well. 

You've really got to be very strong-willed. If you're not very organised, you're not going to do very well because you're just going to get it all mixed up. 

There are so many things that you have to do so you have to make sure you just get them done on time. If you are given something to do that day, make sure you do it that day. 

The stress and the tiredness is the challenge.

How early do you get your shifts?

We get them about a week in advance as students which can be quite annoying. If I'm in the community for 3 weeks, I'd get my 3-week block the week before. It makes it difficult to make plans especially when you're on delivery. It can be doing nights, days, weekends, anything, so you can’t make any plans until you get your rota. That can be quite hard.

What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started? 

If I'm honest, knowing that Midwives didn't just deliver babies. I went into this thinking I'm going to deliver a baby every single day, but no. It’s so different. But you know what, I actually love it, I wouldn't have it any other way. Because I can imagine that if you did just deliver babies every day it would get kind of boring. You're doing something different every day.

Also, the fact that you don't get a summer when you're a student. You are working, whereas other uni students would get a holiday in May. We work all the way through to September.

What skills do you need to become a Student Midwife?

You need to be very caring and confident in yourself. If you're not confident and you feel unsure whether you can do it, you're just going to fall behind. You have to just try it and trust that the Midwife will support you. You need to be strong-willed and motivated. It’s not a typical uni course. When everyone's out to party, you're staying in and studying because it’s literally a course that you want to do with the rest of your life.

What would surprise people most about what you do?

It would be the long hours compared to other NHS workers. I know nurses and consultants do 12-hour shifts but a lot of NHS actually do 9 - 5. So it's quite a surprise when people realise you work 12.5 hours.

Also the emotional side of Midwifery, you have a lot of losses. You have to be incredibly strong for the woman. When I tell people I’ve been through a difficult situation on that day, people are shocked to hear that. They sometimes think everyone's happy because you deliver babies. It's not sometimes. It's very emotional at times.

Do you get support with that?

At my uni, we get a personal tutor, which is someone that I can go to. We get someone at our hospital and we also get a midwife officer at our hospital as well. So there are three different people I can go to. We do get quite a lot of support with it.

Do you get any benefits or perks?

I'm not gonna slate the NHS… but not really. As a Student Midwife, you don't even get paid for your 12-hour shifts. So, you're kind of doing them for free. And especially in the third year, when you're doing the same as what a Midwife does. So it's kind of annoying in that respect.

What advice would you give to someone who was looking into this as a career?

Research and learn a lot of information about Midwifery. If you're going to a university interview and say that you just watched ‘One Born Every Minute’ and want to become a Midwife. They won't they won't let you in, because it is a TV series and a lot of the time it's actually not real. 

Sign up for the Royal College of Midwives. It's a membership that you get a lot of free perks with. You can get loads of information. You get magazines weekly, with articles about what we need to do as midwives and how to achieve this. 

Try and get some experience. Even if you can go volunteering in your local hospital, or any kind of ward. Even if you can't go on the labour ward, any ward is good, as long as you've got that experience.

Is the job what you expected it to be?

No. I didn’t think that we would do as much in the first year. I thought that we would be more observant. But you know what, I actually love that it was so hands-on. My Midwife when I'm in the community, lets me basically do a whole appointment on my own. She just sits in the corner watching me, to make sure I'm doing it right.

We did get told we wouldn’t be able to do much as first years but we actually do quite a lot. 

And I really like it.

Follow Ella’s Midwifery journey here and get even more insight into what it’s actually like to be a Student Midwife. 

At Breakroom, we tell you what a job is really like from the people who actually work there. 

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Published on 28 February 2022