‘WELCOME HOME’… They were the words of a friend who understands my need to work in caseload midwifery in response to me sharing that I’d been to my 1st birth with my new team back in September. Those words sum it up perfectly because it so feels like home, where I can finally be the midwife I want to be!!! I thought after a month of being with Neighbourhood Midwives NHS team I would share a bit about my experience so far.
My first few weeks were a bit of a whirlwind, moving back to London then moving again last week, starting a new job, experiencing a different way of working, getting to know new colleagues, new guidelines, mandatory training and getting around to meet lots of lovely women and families… it’s only been the last week that I’ve felt the dust has started to settle and I’m finding my feet more and it is WONDERFUL!!!
I have so much I want to share but I’m going to use this post to talk about being on call. The on call part of being a caseload midwife is what puts many midwives off as there is an assumption that being on call means you will get called a lot and that you will just be sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring and not able to do anything fun with family or friends. I hope this post will help those who think that, to realise that’s not true!
When I was on call in my last job it was more stressful for me but mainly because more often than not community midwives would end up in the labour ward covering staff shortages and also as I wasn’t working in caseload, the calls I would get would be completely unexpected and there wouldn’t be any communication prior, it would just generally be a woman calling that I’ve never met before to go to at home, which could be anywhere in the county, or being called in to labour ward. I did always try to make plans but I found it harder to enjoy myself because I constantly felt on edge.
This month has been a stark contrast to that.
This last week on call I’ve mainly had phone calls during the day, which have been routine things about appointments or women just needing a bit of advice. Even they have been minimal. I’ve organised my week myself in partnership with the woman I’m caring for, arranging appointments around times that suit both. I’ve been able to fit them around moving house (which I did last weekend) and unpacking. I don’t generally have any routine appointments outside of usual working hours, so not evenings or weekends, but I have chosen to do the odd couple due to convenience really for both me and the family. I have had really busy days this last week with back to back appointments but I’ve loved it.
On Friday I finished after a 10 hour day of appointments then went to meet friends at a local pub to wind down, alcohol free of course, knowing someone I know is possibly getting started with labour, but I had a fun night with friends then went home to bed around midnight. At around 4am I got my 1st night time call of the week and went out to a lovely homebirth, I was home again for 9.30am and after a quick breakfast went back to bed for a few hours. I woke up to a message from a friend asking if I wanted to go to a gig that night and jumped at the chance (Chemical Brothers –ACE). It was only half hour drive from my house so why not. I had my phone in my hand all night whilst I danced away and had the best night out I’ve had in a long time!!
During the gig I kept an eye on WhatsApp as my team communicate a lot that way and one colleague said she might need a 2nd midwife, I said I could head back but other colleagues who were nearby had offered too and in the end none of us were needed. I got home at about 1am and slept like a dream. The next morning I offered to go and visit the woman who had had the homebirth the day before, just to make sure everything was well. It was a lovely visit with the whole family there, really special. I then went home, chatted to a few friends and family on the phone catching up, cooked myself and my housemate some nice food and had an early night.
So that’s what my week of being a caseload midwife was like! All weeks will be different of course as birth is unpredictable, but being called to a birth as a caseload midwife is not as unpredictable as being on call generally, such as in my previous job.
The health benefits for me have been pretty huge already. I’m now cooking proper food and finding time for myself and my family again. I’m sleeping so well, I went through a stage of needing medication to sleep as I was so stressed and anxious about work, but now I sleep well and feel so rested when I wake up. I’m able to put women and their needs at the centre of my care whilst also prioritising my own health and my own needs. I have an abundance of support from my own team but also from the wider organisation. We have someone who we can call anytime, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day if we need help or advice and also an abundance of midwives with specialist skills who can share tips and advice on all sorts. I have never felt so supported or so at home as a midwife. It is everything that I imagined and more.