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Taking time for self-care

02 August 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 8


Within her first few weeks as a preceptee midwife, Heidi Stone began to realise that to provide quality care to women and families, she first had to take care of herself.

One thing that I have found particularly challenging over the past couple of months of working as a preceptee midwife is the number of postnatal women, or women in the early stages of labour, whom the midwives are allocated to care for at one time. This was something that I experienced during my first week on the delivery suite.

It was an extremely busy day and I was allocated four women to care for. Three were at various stages of the early postpartum period, and one woman was in the early stages of labour. All of the women had their own—very different—needs, such as requiring extra support during the latent phase of labour, talking about their birth experiences, discussing care after caesarean section, assistance with breastfeeding, or just that little bit of extra reassurance for first-time mothers that everything they were experiencing was normal. I wanted to spend more time with these women, discussing their hopes and fears, but I found myself saying, ‘I'm sorry I haven't been around much, but I have other women to look after,’ and, ‘I've got to transfer you to the ward now—they are brilliant over there and they will help you.’ I found this extremely disheartening because I wanted to give all the women the attention they needed. I wanted more time to talk to the first-time mother about her birth experience; I wanted all the time it took to help a woman with breastfeeding her new baby. But in the real world, with the pressures of the unit and the demand for delivery rooms, this is virtually impossible.

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