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A day in the life of a Dutchy midwife

by Elinor | Jan 25, 2017 | baby, Birth, Blog, Home birth, Hospital, midwifery, On-call | 0 comments

Elinor-button-JPEG.jpegIt's 20.00pm on a Thursday evening and I'm ready to go on call. My colleague will arrive shortly to hand-over, unless she calls me first to take over from her if she's busy.

A bit later and no phone call and no colleague yet. Not unusual though – it's a very relaxed team and this team mate I know will usually arrive a bit later.
And yes, indeed she rolls up just when I've got the pot of tea ready (because some British things cannot be left behind..!)

So, we settle in for hand-over with a mug of Yorkshire Tea as this particular colleague actually likes our strong tea with milk. Just as I have learned to drink hot water in a glass that has seen a swift dip of a flavoured tea bag (at best), so we all adapt to new cultures and challenges!
I hear all about her day, the postnatal visits she has done, the extra check-ups and the quick birth in the afternoon. How she took a young high school student on work experience with her and was able to show her a real birth due to the generosity of the birthing mother. A future midwife? Maybe..!
Then we go through my scheduled visits for tomorrow, I haven't got many which is a nice relaxing start to the shift. Only two visits, a luxury! Normally we have 5 or 6 postnatal visits as a standard, sometimes up to 8 or 10 if it's busy.
We chat about clients, things that are going on in the practice and time ticks on. We chat about our children, how they're getting on and mine appear intermittently to get snacks and drinks from the kitchen.
It's all part of normal life, routine. My children come and sit with us regularly, interrupt proceedings and demand a little time and attention of their own. So hand-over can often include hilarious stories from friends or school, home-made cookies that are produced while we're chatting or a spontaneous fashion show of new clothes!
Eventually we exhaust our hand-over, several hours later…!

The on-call phone rings and I'm immediately ready for a baby on the way. Not this time though, this is a new mum with some breastfeeding questions which I am happy to answer despite the hour. I hang up after the call and think about how wonderful it is that our clients have access to a medical professional on the end of a phone 24 hours a day. The amount of calls we take and reassure worried parents (to-be) really makes me proud of the system I work in. Small things often, but to the worried clients, absolutely paramount.

Then as I'm still wide awake I decide to work on some IT for the practice, which is usually a big mistake as I'm busy for hours…which is of course what happens. Now I decide to go to bed as it's quiet so far. Then after a fairly short sleep the phone goes again…

A papa on the phone; 'Hello, I'm Mrs. T's husband and she's having some contractions now and the waters seem to have broken..'

'I'm going to PUSH!' I hear in the background…

I JUMP out of bed, throw on my clothes and run down the stairs. I'm still on the phone as I'm pretty sure the baby's coming and I need to instruct papa. He sounds a bit scared but not panicked so I tell him what he needs to do with one arm in my coat and the other pulling on a snow boot.

'I'll be there in 5 minutes!' I assure him as I dash out of the door. Thankfully they live very close by and I've been to their home before for an extra check-up, so I know exactly where I'm going.
It's -5 outside, so I get into the frozen car and start it up as fast as possible. I've got the blowers going full blast and leap out to de-ice the windows. I scrabble an area on the windscreen enough to see through and jump back in.
But it's all steamed up and frozen on the inside! 'Oh bugger it!' I'm thinking as I open the window and stick my head out to see.

So here I am, at 05.50am – 3 minutes after leaping out of bed, driving through the ice with my head stuck out of the window, wearing a bobble hat… I'm hoping no one sees me!

I arrive at 05.54, looking at the clock to see how long since I spoke to Mrs. T's husband. It's taken me 7 minutes in total to get here, not bad. The building is being renovated so there is scaffolding and temporary structures all around the entrance. I stop the car (stop, not park!) right in front and throw my 'Midwife Emergency' notice on the dash board. Leaping out, I grab my visiting bag and run to the boot to get my kit out. I sling the huge orange rucksack on my back, slam the boot and run like the clappers…

The bloke waiting to be collected for work follows my movements with a look of slight alarm on his face…

The wonderful sunrise from the 12th floor after a super fast home birth!

Up the stairs to the second floor, then to the lift – up to the 12th floor… running down the balcony and into the house. The front door is open as instructed thankfully.
As I dash into the hall, papa is coming out of the bathroom.

'Oh hi' he says. 'he's here already..' then calmly leads me into the bedroom…

I do a swift sweep of the situation. This is a 5th baby for this mama, so she's laying like a professional with her baby on her chest. Baby's fine, mama's fine.
Papa comes and stands next to me. 'I was a bit scared' he tells me.
I tell him he is amazing and that he deserves his midwife's diploma! I can see he's proud, but relieved that I'm here.
I sort everything out and then we have a proper look at the little one, who turns out to be a she and not a he. Little curious faces are starting to appear and after mama is settled the older children are allowed in with their wide, sleepy eyes. I look over and see this new little one surrounded by her siblings and grab a phone to take some pictures.
The maternity nurse arrives, breakfast commences and all the children get ready for school. I sit with the family and eat some toast while I'm bombarded with questions! There will be a tale to tell at school today, that's for sure.

I leave the family when the children have gone to school and mama can get some sleep. It's a bit early for my visits so I decide to catch some sleep myself before carrying on. After the adrenaline ebbs away, I realise I'm knackered!

Tomorrow read the continuing story of Elinor's day!
“So I repack my bag, lay my clothes ready and climb into bed. Not long after the phone rings, it's the hospital with a message about a client. I note it down and go back to sleep. The phone goes again, it's the assistant from the practice with a question about a client, I deal with it, note it down and settle down again. The phone goes again, it's a maternity nurse to discuss the baby she's caring for, I deal with it, note it down and settle down again……."