Name: Dawn Adams
Degree and university: Dramatic Art with English as part of my B.Ed (Hons) at Stranmillis University College, Belfast, and taught in a Primary School for 13 years before beginning a B. Midwifery Sciences (Hons) at Queen’s University Belfast in September 2006.
Job Title: Second Year Student Midwife
What do you actually do?
I have assisted at the birth of 19 babies, cared for women antenatally and postnatally – both in their homes and in the clinical settin – and I am presently completing a neonatal placement with sick and pre-term babies.
Were you always interested in this sector as a carer?
I never had an interest in Nursing but after the birth of my second son I became very interested in Midwifery. I had Consultant-led care during my four pregnancies, because of a medical condition, so my contact with midwives was initially limited to the postnatal period. During my third pregnancy I was admitted to hospital in early labour at 31 weeks gestation and received amazing care from the midwives who advocated for me with medical staff and took time to listen to my concerns and anxieties as well as spending time explaining why certain treatments were being offered, and putting my mind at rest. After my fourth son was born I had a marvellous Community midwife who was incredibly helpful in giving me the confidence to cope with four children under the age of five whilst dealing with insulin-dependent diabetes and breastfeeding.
How did you find out about this particular job?
One of my husband’s work colleagues applied for Direct Entry Midwifery and as he talked about her progress I thought ‘I would love to have a go at that’! I saw an advert in a local paper for the course and applied for one of the 25 places available, as did thousands of other people. I couldn’t believe it when I got an interview and getting an unconditional offer for a place on the course was amazing.
Would you undrtake further edutcation in order to gain promotion?
With Midwifery the education side doesn’t finish at the point of qualification. It is a career that involves lifelong learning so further training and exams are part and parcel of the job. As far as promotion goes if I feel that I have something worthwhile to offer a management post then I will certainly apply for any jobs that come up.
What do you like most about what you do and what are the downsides?
I love the variety of women you meet in any one day and I get a kick out of seeing a first time mother establish breastfeeding successfully. I also feel very privileged that a woman who started off as a stranger trusts me to help her bring her baby into the world – that is job satisfaction!
Hearing that a woman you have developed a relationship with during her pregnancy has a still-birth or coping with the emotional devastation when a woman discloses domestic abuse during a visit is incredibly difficult. It’s good to have the support of midwifery staff and tutors who have been there before to help make sense of things like that but it reinforces how important it is to listen to women and not form judgements about their lives or circumstances. There but for the grace of God go I…
What skills do you need to succeed at what you do?
I think the most important skills are listening, observing and knowing who to refer to when things aren’t going normally. Having the humility to know that I can’t be all things to all women and recognising when my skills aren’t necessarily the most appropriate at a given time can be a personal challenge, but my ultimate responsibility is to my clients and their families, not to my own sense of self-worth.
What advice would you offer graduates coming into this sector?
Never assume you know everything – inevitably you don’t. Also be humble enough to admit you can’t do something and be willing to learn from people who have greater competency than you.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Midwives are professionals in their own right and there should be more available if women are to really have the freedom to make choices during their pregnancies and births. We don’t just work with women, we work with families and communities and educating and empowering them is our biggest strength.