Labour ward here I come! I may have dragged my tired brain out of bed when my alarm went off at 5 so I could grab the first bus off campus but it was so so worth it.
On my first shift, I was assigned to the Lucina ward where low risk births happen. The rooms were beautiful with huge birthing pools, lots of beanbags, and fairy lights in the ceiling giving the impression we were under the nights sky. Unfortunately, we had no patients (which I think is a first for the NHS) and the Lucina ward was shut down. I ended up shadowing the midwife who was originally on Lucina with me. I went into the room of a mother who was having contractions and I ended up chatting to the student midwife there. We don’t get an awful lot of interaction with other healthcare students as student nurses are so busy, you feel bad for disturbing them. She taught me about interpreting the CTG (the machine producing the wiggly line you see on one born every minute) and I began to see the wood for the trees with interpreting the lines.
As the pregnancy progressed, I saw how midwifes cope with the transition to the final part of labour and before I knew it, I was watching a beautiful baby boy being born. Mum was exhausted and it struck me just how misshapen babies heads are when they are first born. I was so happy for the rest of the day and I got to do some minor tasks around the ward such as taking blood and doing general obs. It felt amazing to be included in the team and I went home a happy student, if slightly tired.
My next shift, however, was one I will never forget. The first part of the day was quiet, and we were waiting around for something to happen. This is the norm on labour ward. When we turned up the midwives were joking around saying we should have turned up 12 hours earlier as they had birthed 14 babies overnight. I got to experience the delights of the labour ward toast (a legend passed down in the medical school) and attempted to draw blood. I decided to make it a mini-cex so I had a ST4 anaesthetist shadowing me which was terrifying. I was struggling to get the blood so eventually, he had to step in to help, which was slightly annoying as I couldn’t use it as a sign off but hey ho!
In the afternoon I ended up in a room with a lovely couple who were roughly my age. Being in that room was brilliant as everyone was joking around and we were chatting about everything from English lessons at school to favourite Disney movies. At one point I forgot I was on labour ward!
Eventually, the contractions got more frequent and before I knew it I was helping set up the labour equipment and the midwife was putting out sterile gloves for me and I was fully involved in the labour process. I could see the baby’s head appearing and before I knew it the midwife grabbed my hands and I helped the rest of the body to be born and passed baby up to mum with the midwife guiding my hands. I had just helped deliver a baby. I had the biggest grin on my face and I am not sure who was happier, the parents or I! I helped the midwife birth the placenta meaning I got to examine the placenta with the amniotic sac attached. It was incredible to remember that the placenta and the baby had all originated from two half cells. I wanted to stay to find out how much the baby weighed and its measurements as the parents had predicted and I wanted to see if they were right or not. When I looked at the clock after we had cleaned up I realised, I had done 14 hours on labour ward! However, I didn’t care. I had just helped a baby come into the world and no feeling could beat that.
I have two teddy cut outs on my wall now (pink and blue) to remind me of the two births I had seen. It will be an experience I will carry through me for the rest of this year and although I don’t think obs and gyne was for me, I enjoyed every second there.