“Is it time to push!?” A tired and anxious woman asks Claire Nicholson.
Even though the woman’s husband hadn’t arrived at the hospital yet, they couldn’t hold off any longer. This baby was coming, and fast. But there was another ‘father’ of sorts who also didn’t want to miss the delivery.
Right as the woman began to push, a massive daddy long legs spider descended from the ceiling of the delivery room and hovered right in front of Claire’s face.
As Claire ran around frantically trying to squash the nosey arachnid, the woman began to deliver. Between Claire and the woman in labor, it was hard to tell whose screams were whose.
“The head’s out!”
And just like that, one life came to an end as another began.
“They say that when you give birth to your second child you can expect a faster and more unpredictable delivery,” says Claire.
Unpredictable is right! But I guess it’s not always for the reasons you might expect.
Claire, a Foresters™ Competitive Scholarship winner, is studying midwifery at the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire. When Claire was in high school she didn’t have a clue what she wanted to study at University, but she did know that she was interested in healthcare, enjoyed biology and liked working with people. And she also knew she wanted a practical job that would be different every day.
But picking a career in healthcare isn’t easy. While helping the sick, elderly and critically ill is incredibly rewarding and important work, it can also be emotionally taxing for caretakers.
Enter midwifery! Where women come to the hospital not because they’re sick, but to bring their child into the world. It’s a monumental life-changing experience new mothers will never forget, and you get to be a part of it.
Well, eventually, after lots of in-class theory, late night study sessions and hundreds of placement hours.
This year, Claire’s placement has her out in the community, working at antenatal clinics and postnatal drop-ins, as well as visiting new moms at home. She’s chipping away at the 2,300 placement hours that she must complete for her degree. While on placement, Claire logs in a full 37.5 hour work week, which she accomplishes mainly in 12.5 hour night shifts. “On nightshifts, midwives tend to be pretty delirious and laugh a lot,” says Claire jokingly.
Luckily, Claire’s not a morning person anyway, but she admits it can be difficult not having a steady routine to keep up with normal activities like going to the gym and spending time with friends.
“But it’s all worth it, because I love the job,” says Claire.
Her favorite part of being a midwife is working in the delivery suite, where she’s able to give new moms one-to-one care.
“You’re allocated a woman when you get on shift and you’re in the room with them the entire time,” she explains. “You get to know the couple, liaise with the doctors, and adjust their care plan if something changes.”
Claire knows all too well that despite all the best planning, nothing can quite prepare you for the real thing.
“All of your university theory goes right out the window. When it comes down to it, the experience is very different,” says Claire. “When the baby was born on my first delivery shift, I burst into tears because I was so excited – probably even more excited than the mother! But to be fair, she was probably pretty exhausted.”