Pip is a practicing midwife in the UK, as a Labour Ward Sister she has a wealth of experience supporting parents-to-be through all aspects of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum. Pip is the founder of The Pregnancy Wellness Podcast, designed to bring you expert, evidence based knowledge in the comfort of your own home. Pip believes that “a positive birth does not have to be un-medicated; it just needs to be from an informed place of positivity and free from fear” and it is this ethos that underpins her online antenatal courses to give you the very best advice and support. She can be found on Instagram @midwife_pip and through her website www.midwifepip.com
1.Tell me about you, where you are from and how long you have been a midwife.
Hello, I am Pip, I am a practicing Midwifery Sister in the UK. I LOVE being a Midwife. I currently work on a Labour Ward where I am kept busy coordinating the unit and making sure all of our mums and babies receive excellent care and are kept safe regardless of any twists and turns that may crop up in their pregnancy, birth or postpartum journey. My midwifery career started in 2012 and I have worked across various settings from the community and homebirth settings, to midwife-led birthing centres and maternity wards before settling on delivery suite.
2. Why did you decide you wanted to become a midwife?
My path into Midwifery wasn’t very conventional- in fact I was meant to be heading off to Veterinary School before taking a last-minute U-turn and changing my mind, it was only then I began exploring the idea of becoming a Midwife and I am glad it is the path I took.
3. How did you find the training?
I think it is fair to say that Midwifery training is equal amounts of high’s and low’s. It is very different to other university degrees no long holidays and very little spare time. I had also moved out of a small town in the South to the bright lights of London to complete my training. Learning about the joys of life and the heartbreak of babies that are born sleeping and seeing parents leave with empty arms makes for an emotional rollercoaster. That being said I learned how to be resilient and that with kindness, compassion and hard work I could thrive in a vocation that allowed me to make a difference to those I meet every single day.
4. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It is so hard to pinpoint an exact highlight. I truly believe that I have the most wonderful job- every day I am able to witness birth, each is unique and incredible in its own way. But more than that each day I support women in all their strength and courage as they become mothers; some for the first time, others for the tenth but that moment is one that never tires in its beauty.
I have an ethos that a positive birth does not need to be un-medicated, it just needs to be from an informed place of positivity and free from fear. I teach Online, Group and Private Antenatal Courses and one of the most rewarding and beautiful moments for me is when expectant parents complete my course and rather than feeling anxious or worried about birth, they feel strong and excited about their journey. I think that all expectant mums should be able to feel this way, my Antenatal Course details can be found over on my website www.midwifepip.com
5. What have you not liked so much?
Like any other front-line NHS worker our job as midwives is tough. We work long hours day and night, skip breaks, work Christmas day, feel the strain of short staffing levels and bed shortages. And if I had a magic wand, I would love our wards to be thriving with plenty of staff and an abundance of beds, so we didn’t have these tough time pressures.
Needless to say, COVID-19 hasn’t helped all of that very much at all! Without a doubt it’s a challenge, but a challenge I am proud to rise to. I feel that as a profession we have been able to continue to provide women with safe and compassionate care despite the whirlwind going on behind the scenes. The clap for careers gave me goose bumps and brought a tear to my eye every single week and it never failed to give everyone a boost because we knew that we were not in this battle with COVID-19 alone, we had a whole army of support behind us. I am proud to be on our NHS front line. And I am proud of all the mums to be, the parents, the grandparents and every single member of the public who has helped to save lives during this global pandemic.
6. Tell me 3 qualities that make an excellent midwife
Number 1 is without a doubt to be Kind. Kindness is the greatest gift we can show anyone.
Number 2 is Teamwork. Midwifery is not a job you can do alone, the team around us is what enables us to provide women with exceptional care.
Number 3 is Intuition. As midwives we are often planning 3 moves ahead to that we can pre-empt any potential twists and turns in a birth journey and support you to stay empowered and safe. With experience, definitely comes intuition and just like women should trust theirs so should midwives.
7. There has been a lot of awareness raised in recent months and years about the plight of black and brown women having babies. What do you think we can do as midwives to help reduce the “5 x more” and “ 2 x more” stats?
The fact that Black women are 5 x more likely to die during childbirth is completely unacceptable. It really does sadden me that such disparities in health outcomes exists between ethnic backgrounds and it is obvious that change must happen.
Speaking with colleagues in healthcare I feel that people go into this line of work with the best intentions and without the intent of any racial discrimination. It therefore wakens us to the idea that racial discrimination is existing on a subconscious level. Addressing issues that exist in our subconscious is more challenging than those in our conscious minds as we are relativity unaware of them. So, raising awareness and speaking out are important drivers in supporting change. All health care professionals should pay particular attention to women who need translation services or additional welfare support and be sure to provide these additional levels of care. Kindness, non-judgement and the ability to listen with the intention to understand and not to respond should underpin all that health care professionals do when working with women of all backgrounds and ethnicity.
I wish I knew the answer to fixing this, but I don’t – I could do with the magic wand that I said above would provide us with an abundance of beds and midwives! I am however opening my mind, my eyes and my ears to what is happening in the world and will support positive campaigns to change and equality in healthcare.
8. What is a typical day like at work for you?
05:30- Alarm goes off- shower, brush teeth and jump into my scrubs. Before I leave for a workday, I always have a good, nourishing breakfast and make a fresh coffee from my overly indulgent Sage coffee machine (worth every penny in my opinion!) And I have realised that as I pause, with my house quiet at this early hour I sip my coffee and tuck into my porridge laden with fruit and peanut butter that this is a form of somewhat accidental mindfulness for me. It’s taking this moment to settle my mind and feel grateful for what I have that enables me to hit the ground running when I get to work, be resilient to whatever is coming my way and to keep going for 12 hours without getting too hangry if there isn’t a chance for lunch.
07:30- The outgoing Delivery Suite Sister gives handover to the incoming shift of midwives and support workers. As the incoming Sister I then allocate my team to specific women and families on labour ward. As each midwife gets a more in-depth handover for each woman I go around and say hello to all of our woman and make sure that them and their babies (either still inside or in the cot beside them) are all well and safe.
08:30- We then have a handover between Doctors shifts and myself along with the incoming team of Obstetricians introduce ourselves to all the women on labour ward. Even for women whose labour and births are all progressing without concern we feel it’s nice to have seen everyone’s face and know their name so that should you require any assistance later on you are not met with a stranger.
09:30- 19:30- The day is then spent supporting all my colleagues, attending births, prioritising women coming over for labour inductions, managing emergencies that crop up, checking baby’s heartbeat traces, transferring women between units where needed, liaising with our obstetric and anaesthetic colleagues. It is always variable, and every day is unique which is why I love it so much. I then start trying to allocate midwives to take their lunch break (45 minutes) it is sometimes really difficult, but it is important that midwives have this time to refuel their body and rest their mind as shifts are both long and demanding. At some point, I will also grab some food, but I always aim to ensure my team has eaten first so often this consists of a protein bar and sandwich at a time more appropriate for dinner time (hence the good breakfast!) and usually with my phone or bleep chiming at the same time.
19:30- Roles are reversed- I handover to the incoming shift before checking all our midwives are ok, shifts are verified (else no one gets paid!), sometimes a few admin jobs such as appraisals and sorting annual leave gets done after shift if the day/ night has been too busy to complete these tasks.
20:30- Home time. I drive home, usually with a podcast or audio book playing- again I have come to realise this is a bit of mindfulness I have inadvertently tacked onto the end of my day as a way to unwind.
21:15- Arrive home. I am usually 50% smelly and 50% starving. So, it’s shower, food and bed. I am not the most wonderful company as I am usually fairly exhausted and desperate to get some rest before the next day. Those who live with and support midwives are hero’s.
9. Do you have any interesting birth stories that stand out?
Honestly, I get so excited and feel so honoured to attend each and every birth regardless of whether it is a waterbirth at home, an epidural birth, forceps or emergency caesarean section. All birth is beautiful and amazing. I love particularly seeing women realise what they are capable of and how strong they are in labour and birth- women believing in themselves and their bodies is incredible to witness.
It is so difficult to name just one birth but one that comes to mind is an incredible couple who had given birth to their stillborn baby 3 years prior and I had been the midwife supporting them through this tragedy. But 3 years on, I had the absolute honour of being their midwife as they gave birth to their live baby- it was emotional and beautiful beyond words. I think this experience helped us all to heal in a way.
9. Give me a few random facts about yourself!
You may have guessed from the above, but I am a huge coffee lover! I am also an avid runner currently training for a hilly 26.2 miles at the start of 2021.
During the first 2020 lockdown I also set about creating a Podcast and am very proud to be the founder of The Pregnancy Wellness Podcast- available on all major podcasting platforms it aims to bring free, honest and evidence-based information about all aspects of women’s health, pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
I have also been busy blogging and you can find my blog posts on my website www.midwifepip.com
On my website you will also see I offer a birth preference and postpartum survival tool planner that is free to download!
10. What tips do you have for any prospective student midwives?
- Always be kind- women do not forget the way they were made to feel during their birth.
- Prioritise your work-life balance it is imperative to a successful career and your own health and wellness.
- You will witness everyday miracles and beauty that most will never, but you will also witness tragedy and heartbreak that will impact you as a human. Seek help and support when you need it- Birth trauma effects midwives too.
You can follow Pip on Instagram @midwife_pip