Interview: A day in the life of a midwife

Discover what it's like to deliver new life daily

By Deborah James, 04 May 2017
Interview: A day in the life of a midwife

May 5 is a day for paying homage to all those special people helping deliver the 360,000 babies on our planet each day - Happy International Day of the Midwife

This year's theme of the global celebration is “Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life!” which will help spread the word that by working in partnership with women and their families, midwives can support new parents to make better decisions about what they need to have a safe and fulfilling birth.

We spoke to London-based midwife Jay Slaughter to find out more about what it’s like to be involved in bringing new life into the world every day. 

Why did you want to become a midwife?

"Lots of midwives will tell you it's all they've ever wanted to do and that they've spent years trying to get into it. I feel very lucky that I sort of fell into midwifery. 

The A-levels I did at college led me into something medical and when I was looking at university courses I saw midwifery and it just caught my eye. I didn't really know what I wanted to do but everything about it fascinated me. I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the course and my fascination with it grew. It was meant to be!"

What do you love most about your job?

"There are many things I love about my job. I love the people I work with, I love that I get to meet new people every day, I love that you can never stop learning! I love being a part of someone's birth. I think you could describe seeing a baby being born as one of the closest things we have to magic. It is such a privilege to be a part of helping a new life into the world and I feel so lucky for that. 

"Seeing the families going home with their new addition is my favourite though. The smiles when they walk out of the door going home is the best!"

The most challenging aspect of your job?

"There are many challenging aspects, like with all jobs. People can guess the obvious things with midwifery, like when childbirth or pregnancy goes wrong. This is something we can never get used to and will always find challenging. Getting used to shift work is tough too though! Staying up all night for a night shift and then trying to turn your body clock around for the next lot of day shifts is hard. I've found this gets easier with time."

What hours do you work?

"Where I work we work 12.5 hour shifts and these start at 8am and finish at 8.30pm for a day shift. And 8pm to 8.30am for a night shift. 

Although these shift times don't change you have to be professional and be prepared to work over your shift if needed to ensure your patient gets the best possible care."

How has so much exposure to births made you feel about having your own children?

"This is something I get asked about a lot! I went into midwifery at 18-years-old and haven't had any children of my own yet. Although seeing people go through labour or difficult births may seem off-putting, when you see a family go home with their new born baby it all seems worth it. The happiness babies bring makes you forget everything else."

A typical day for you?

8am:  Into work for a handover. We get an overview of every patient on the ward before then being assigned one each.

12pm: You might be mid-way through looking after someone in labour by now. Encouraging and supporting them whilst constantly ensuring everything is going safely. 

5pm:  If you're lucky you may have had a delivery! A beautiful baby who will be tucked up skin-to-skin with mum. 

7pm: After completing all your checks of mum and baby and all your paperwork you may be asked to look after another lady who has come into the ward. 

8.30pm: Hand over to the night staff who will continue care until you come back in the next morning. 

But every day is different, you never know what you're going to walk into - and that's what makes it so exciting!

Stock up before your bundle of joy arrives by visiting our special Baby and Toddler site for all your essentials.

And make sure you've packed everything you need in your hospital bag  - use our checklist as a guide.