I can’t stress this enough. It’s great that you’ve just studied all “this stuff” and it’s one of the reasons practices like having students, they bring new knowledge to the table… but don’t be an ass about it. Respect that the midwives you’re working with have years of knowledge and experience … their way of practicing may not be the right away but yours maybe isn’t either … go from guidelines and create your own style.
Write Down Practice Pearls
These are little wisdoms that midwives do or have… keep them in your pocket for your future practice. Respectfully throw things away that don’t suit you.
Ask for Feedback
All the time. Don’t be combative about it. Say thank you. That being said, take credit when you did something well.
Write down at least one “success” every day. Especially when you’ve had a bad day. Those small successes will help you to see the big picture: you are doing well and improving every day. E.g. I noticed a deceleration in the fetal heart rate… Did 3 IVs… Found the cervix… Sutured a second degree tear…
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Hard when everyone starts posting on Facebook about how many babies they’ve caught or skills they’ve done… Don’t worry, everyone has a unique experience – focus on yours.
Call Your Friends
Most times, I prefer texting but to be honest but there’s nothing like calling your friend after a long day. Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you cry for a minute and then a good friend to tell you to get some sleep and it’ll all look better in the morning.
Take Off-Call Time
See those friends that you talk with on the phone. Connect with family and your partner, and people who aren’t in the program to keep you grounded.
Good and bad. Feeling funny about a birth? Ask your preceptor if you feel comfortable, talk to a senior student at the practice, or someone in your class. I think it’s most helpful to talk to someone who understands the on-call life and medicine because they have some context to the stories you’re telling and probably understand where you’re coming from. Don’t know a senior student? Message me!
After every birth if you can. This is a good time to write down all the super awesome things you did and a place to write down the things you’re still working on. My journal started with long winded birth stories and by the end I just had bulleted lists… regardless, it’s the intention.
My friends and I did this at a coffee shop one day. Each of us pretended to be a client. It was silly and fun, and really helpful! When I first started taking pages, I would review them with my friend – we would quiz each other: “What’s your differential?!” It was really fun and a great way to learn from one another.
Rx: Eat & Sleep
When in doubt eat something and then go to bed. Humans aren’t meant to function on only 4 hours sleep for 8 days in a row.
It may seem kind of silly and I can see people commenting with that “don’t tell me to smile” shark meme but seriously people will be drawn to your friendly energy.
… Especially to the Hospital Staff
The nurses can help teach you a lot of cool things and show you where stuff is. I always walked onto the floor saying “Good morning!” especially at 2am … I think the nurses thought I was bit nuts, but we got along really well and had some laughs. Don’t be afraid of the OBs either, the first consult you do is a little scary but take a deep breath, it’ll be okay!
Preceptors are Human
They may appear to be Wonder Woman with all their kids and their clubs and their awesome midwifing skills, but they are human. They are going to have bad days just like you – don’t take it personally.
16 Weeks is Long
But look back often and take note of how much you’ve improved every week. Before you know it it’ll be over and you’ll be like me, crying when you get into your car on your last day because you’ve just had such a wonderful time.
Speaking of Crying…
Practice lots of self care… Whatever that looks like for you. Sometimes you forget about your own wellbeing when you’re taking care of other people 24/7 so try and remind yourself to slow down.
Go to Starbucks
Because life is short and it is my medical opinion that chai tea lattes are good for you.
You Will Make Mistakes
And lots of them. Pull up your socks and try again. It’s okay. No one is perfect.
Be Kind to Yourself
You will not be the first person to pass out at a birth, drop the Doppler in the tub, or say something stupid… and you won’t be the last. At least you’ll give the parents a good laugh and a story to tell.
Pack an Overnight Kit
Including extra underwear and deodorant – you never know when you may have to sleep at the hospital.
Pack Food Too…
Keep water and protein bars in your car… I never really did this but would have LOVED some snacks on so many occasions and was kicking myself for not being more prepared.
With the senior students at the practice. They’ve been through it. They also have good resources.
Think Out Loud
Try and talk out loud… say things like: “Here’s my plan..” or ” Here’s what I’m thinking” … I admit I’m not good at this but I’m working on it.
Know that you’re growing and you will continue to grow in the program and throughout your practice. Always be learning.
Connect with clients but remember boundaries. It’s not about you. It’s not your appointment or your birth story.
Superstitions Are Legit
Superstitions aren’t silly. Full moon? Pack your bag just in case. Storm brewing? Make sure you’ve got a full tank of gas.
Remember to have lots of fun – in this placement you’re living the life of a midwife (or maybe two or three). I can’t describe how much fun I had catching babies, doing clinic, getting to know clients and their families, and learning so many great things at the practice. NC is really the beginning of a new wild life and it’s so wonderful.