As we celebrate International Day of the Midwife on May 5, we chat to student Chloe Spence about her ‘COVID year’ and finding a job, while lecturer Clare Maxwell tells us about a new initiative on breastfeeding.
Chloe, what attracted you to a course in midwifery?
Midwifery is something I have wanted to be part of for many years. It enables me to help women and their families and make a positive impact on their lives. Being a midwife is really diverse and no two days are alike. It can be very stressful at times but the rewards are immense.
How tough has it been over the past 12 months and how have you coped?
It has been very difficult, juggling family life, my clinical practice and preparing assessments to ensure I get into my final year. I’ve had great support from my family, fellow students, the lecturers and the midwives in the Trusts I am placed in. I think working in a team along with my ambition to become a registered midwife have kept me going.
Clare, it has been a tough year for our students, how have they done?
Our student midwives have been outstanding whilst working under the most extreme circumstances, completing their clinical placements during the first and second waves of the pandemic, putting women and their families first throughout. I think what’s impressive is their resilience; this has not been easy for many of them.
What positives do you think the current cohorts will take from this year?
Covid-19 has presented extreme challenges to pregnant women and new parents. Students have not only made a positive contribution to their care, but have shown themselves to be adaptable to the constant change both in their personal lives and within their programme delivery, and have continued to achieve outstanding feedback and marks during the last year.
More widely, I think midwives, like nurses, have met a lot of challenges both personal and professional. Many have isolated themselves from their families in order to reduce transmission and have adapted admirably to wearing PPE for their whole working day, supporting women to birth alone and undertaking virtual appointments with mothers, many whilst continuing to support trainees like those at LJMU.
Why are we working towards Unicef ‘Baby Friendly’ Gold accreditation? How is it going?
Our midwifery programme achieved BFI accreditation in 2017 and we are now striving for the ultimate accreditation which is the ‘Gold’ award. By achieving Gold, the wider university will be proactive in protecting and supporting breastfeeding. The midwifery team are working with LJMU members of staff and departments to achieve the award by 2022.
Chloe, how employable do you feel as a LJMU student?
I am applying for jobs now and the LJMU midwifery programme has enabled me to feel confident in moving to registration as a fully qualified midwife. Because the programme is BFI accredited, graduates like me are more attractive to employers as they know I will have the knowledge and skill to support mothers’ infant feeding decisions and practice. We also have the Newborn Physical Examination’ qualification (usually something midwives undertake post registration), which again is a real benefit to maternity services and the women and family they serve.
May 5 is also World Maternity Mental Health Day and LJMU School of Midwifery is hosting six mini webinars on maternity mental health, including a talk with the PNMH Midwives at the Liverpool Women's Hospital and Oldham Hospital, a session on maintaining well-being during pregnancy and a look at the Maternity Voices Partnership.