Back with another marvellous midwife! This time is with Cheryl Samuels, NHS Midwife, antenatal and hypnobirthing teacher, project lead for All4birth and mother of four (including twins).
Tell me about you, where you are from and how long you have been a midwife
Hello! My name is Cheryl I’m from Chelmsford in Essex and I’ve been a midwife for five years.
Why did you decide you wanted to become a midwife?
In my mid twenties I started my paediatric nurses training but didn’t go back to my third year after maternity leave. During my pregnancies and births I became more and more interested in midwifery and was completely in awe of the process and the midwives caring for me. I waited until all four of my children were in primary school and then begun my midwifery training.
How did you find the training?
With four young children it was tough! Looking back I’m not quite sure how I did it but when there’s a will, there’s a way!!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Working in my local alongside birth centre has been an amazing experience and definitely my favourite are to work in, closely followed by community midwifery!
What have you not liked so much?
The pressure of working in an under staffed and under funded system.
Tell me 3 qualities that make an excellent midwife
Compassion, good communication skills and being woman centred.
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 mortality rate?
I would like to see mandatory training for undergraduate and qualified midwives on systemic racism. It is every maternity professionals responsibility to provide unbiased and fairly accessible health care.
What is a typical day like at work for you?
I’m currently working on my local alongside birth centre so I could being providing intrapartum care to low risk women including water births, postnatal care, infant feeding support, discharging women into the community or triaging women who are maybe in labour or think their waters have broken. It’s a really varied role and that’s what I love about it!
I also teach private live online antenatal hypnobirthing courses one evening a week, which I absolutely love as I’ve really missed not teaching within the NHS, due to classes being cancelled during covid-19. You can find out more details on https://www.theholisticmidwife.uk/
Do you have any interesting birth stories that stand out?
One of my favourite personal experiences was caring for a couple having a rainbow baby (a baby after loss). I found a crocheted rainbow hat and blanket from our donations which were absolutely beautiful, they must have taken so long to make and they were so so happy it’s the little gestures like that, that make the biggest difference.
Give me a few random facts about yourself!
As well as a mum of four (including twins!) I am a dog mum to two adopted pointer cross dogs, they are mother and daughter and one of my favourite parts of the day is walking them.
My favourite place in the U.K. is Devon and I’m super lucky that my sisters live there and that I get to visit them often!
What tips do you have for any prospective student midwives?
~Remember you are part of a multi disciplinary team. You have a shared responsibility and I think that helps to reduce the overwhelm.
~Make time for self care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Your friends, family, time and health are just as, if not more important than midwifery.
~Try not to catastrophize a shift in your head before it’s started, the majority of them will end in a smile. Relax.
~Accept that you are human and humans make mistakes.
~Exercise and move for fun regularly, don’t underestimate the power of those feel good hormones.
~Reflection is an opportunity for learning and being your own critic is important for growth, but so is self love and appreciation. Its important to acknowledge the many things that you and others managed well just as much.
~Look out for your colleagues. Encourage a community of kindness, openness and compassion. Instead of criticising, share and teach.
~You can’t possibly remember everything in your own head. That’s why we have guidelines, updates, senior colleagues and online access. Utilise them.
~Don’t forget to breathe.
~If you need support and help ask for it. You don’t receive a medal for being perfect. Some of the wisest midwives and doctors I know, are honest and candid about their weaknesses.
~Remember to eat and drink plenty of water. How many problems stem from dehydration and fatigue?!! Master the basics.
~You will inspire the next generation of midwives. Your practice will shape the future of maternity services. Be the change you want to see and good luck❤️
You can follow Cheryl on Instagram @the_holistic_midwife