I drove home from the birth with the biggest smile on my face and woke my parents up to tell them I had delivered my first baby. It was the first time I felt like I was an adult with a purpose!
Award nominee and Midwifery alumna Jessica Laidlaw vividly remembers the first delivery she attended. She explains: “It was a home birth 40 miles from my home at 4am, when I was 19 and had minimal life experience. I drove home from the birth with the biggest smile on my face and woke my parents up to tell them I had delivered my first baby! It was the first time I felt like I was an adult with a purpose!”
Jessica certainly is an adult with purpose now. After creating a poster highlighting the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), for charity FORWARD (the UKs leading charity for educating, raising awareness of FGM and supporting young girls who have undergone FGM or are at risk of FGM), Jessica was invited to speak in London about the role of midwives in raising awareness and supporting women and their families. She was then nominated by her tutor (who clearly recognised the hard work Jess had put into raising awareness around FGM) for the Royal College of Midwives student award. The awards took place in March 2016, in London, and Jess came second - a fantastic achievement.
We asked Jess to tell us about her experiences since graduation.
“I started my job as a midwife, straight after graduating. I am now guiding student midwives from the University of South Wales, where I was just months ago. Overall the leap into employment has not been a huge shock as I was aware of the demands of the job due to placements as a student. The transition was not as daunting as I had expected, but I’m still learning every day!”
“A typical day in midwifery is completely different to any other day you’ve had. It’s a day that could include delivering a baby, caring for pregnant women or caring for postnatal women and their babies. The days or night shifts are 12 hours so a lot can happen in that time.”
Jess chose midwifery as a course as she had known from the age of 16 that she wanted to work in the healthcare sector, specifically in the midwifery team, as personal experience had led her to want to make a difference to other families. Jess, goes on to describe a recent shift where she helped a mother deliver a baby without the help of a birth partner: “It was just us two which was a very intimate experience; my patient said that she wouldn’t have been able to have had her baby without me, which brought a tear to my eye! Having positive feedback from my team and from the mothers and families I have cared for motivates me to be the best midwife I can be.”
She credits her tutor Joy James as giving her an amazing, positive course experience, and for nominating her for the student midwife award. Jess describes the Midwifery course as “an essential requirement of my career and I wouldn’t be able to practice without completing it. The course was 50/50 theory and placement which meant everything learnt in the classroom or simulation centre was put to practice when I was on placement.”
Jess also recommends the USW Midwifery society, which was set up by her BA cohort. She explains how she found it an incredibly useful network for sharing experiences and gaining advice - both during the course and post-graduation.