Expert / 5 May, 2018 / Lesley Gilchrist

From Contractions to the Birthing Pool: A Day in the Life of a Midwife

6.00am My working day realistically is 24 hours long, however on most days I begin my working day at around 6am. I’ve been on call for one week now and tend not to sleep too well, so I’m feeling a bit tired. The day usually starts with coffee and toast for breakfast and at this time – in the quiet confines of my kitchen with the rest of my family asleep – I open and reply to emails. Many emails are from prospective clients wanting more information on private antenatal, postnatal and birth care, and wishing to book a one-off appointment for information and advice on specific issues. Some emails are from students midwives looking for shadowing experience and other emails are just those run-of-the-mill general enquiries.

Once my email jobs are completed I work through my diary and build in admin time. My diary can change day to day so it’s important to do this daily. Today I have two antenatal appointments and a postnatal appointment.

9.30am – I arrive at my first appointment of the day and begin by discussing any concerns there may be. All seems well and I measure her blood pressure, test her urine and feel her abdomen. We talk about baby’s movements and the importance of looking out for a pattern of movements. With everything as it should be, we make arrangements for her next appointment in two weeks’ time.

11.30am – I’m just about to make my way to my next appointment when I take a phone call from one of my clients who’s 38 weeks pregnant. It’s her second baby and she’s fairly sure things are starting. No contractions yet, but she’s feeling crampy and has had her ‘show’. I confirm that baby is moving as normal and suggest I make my way to see her after my 12.30pm appointment but for her to call me if she begins to feel any contractions. I’m around 30 minutes away from her.

12.00 midday – My client calls back –  her contractions have started. I text my client that I was due to see at 12.30pm to explain that I’ll be delayed and will probably need to re-schedule….and then I’m on my way.

12.35pm – I arrive at my client’s house and we have a chat about how she’s feeling. She’s timed her contractions as I was driving and calculates that they’re coming every 10 minutes: they are manageable but not painful. As this is her second baby we make a plan for me to stay for a few hours to see if the contractions will start to come more frequently. In the meantime, I check her blood pressure, test her urine and feel her abdomen. With labour and birth possibly imminent it’s important that I can tell which way around baby is (coming head or bottom first) and which way they are facing (back to back or facing mum’s spine).

1.30pm – Baby is head down, blood pressure is normal, urine is normal and baby is back to back. We talk through the type of labour she may experience and what can help.

5.00pm – The contractions have stopped and she’s having some back ache (which is completely normal for a baby in this position). She’s finding relief using a hot water bottle on her back, baby’s moving well. We talk about resting to conserve energy and to eat and drink as normal. I say my goodbyes and she knows to call me if she feels her labour starting again or she’s worried about anything.

7.00pm – I finish off paperwork and then head to bed, just in case. My clothes are always laid out ready.

5.00am – I’m called by the partner of my client in labour. The contractions are really close together and she’s asking for me. I get dressed quickly and head straight to the car. Once in the car I call her back (hands free, of course). I speak to her partner again, she can’t talk. For me that’s a sure sign of active labour. I reassure them that I’m a few minutes away. I call my second midwife to make her aware of things.

5.30am – I arrive, things are calm and mum is in her birthing pool, breathing purposefully. She’s hypnobirthing so it’s always difficult to gauge the stage of labour. I sit quietly and just observe. She’s happy for me to listen to baby’s heartbeat and take her blood pressure. All is well and birth seems imminent so I call my second midwife and ask her to attend.

5.50am – Mum looks and me and says “she’s coming”. As well timed as ever the second midwife arrives just in time to witness mum lifting her daughter to the surface of the water.

Article written by Lesley Gilchrist – Midwife and birth-trauma expert

Lesley is a registered, practising midwife – with both private and NHS experience – as well as joint brand founder of My Expert Midwife, a pre-and-post natal product range which tackles taboos for new and expectant mums. As well as being an expert in the effects and treatment of birth trauma, anxiety and depression, Lesley is a registered hypnobirthing teacher.

More information about Lesley can be found at My Expert Midwife or on social media:

Twitter: @MyExpertMidwife
Facebook: @MyExpertMidwife
Instagram: @my_expertmidwife


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