I hid in the toilets and cried today

I’ve been qualified for 10 months and I thought the days of crying in toilets were over. I’ve grown in confidence and experience, and I’ve needed to ask for help less often. It’s a satisfying feeling that on a day-to-day basis, I can practice and be a competent, autonomous, practitioner. I don’t need to bother other midwives for help every five minutes. I’m not ashamed, however, to still ask for help when I need it. I think that keeps me safe in my practice and I hope it ensures families are getting the best care.

Today I needed to ask for help to determine how to support a family coming for their next appointment, and I knew I was asking a senior midwife whose previous responses to my requests for help had left me crying in the toilets. But I told myself that I’ve got ten months experience behind me, and I’m feeling more settled in my practice – I’m asking her for support as my colleague, not as the “annoying newbie” I felt like in the beginning.

I didn’t expect her response to impact me as much as it did. Ultimately, she refused to help and didn’t even advise me as to how I could find the answers for myself. I completed the appointment for the family on my own. I know my actions were clinically safe, and I hope I conducted the appointment in a manner that was empathetic and kind, providing space for the family to express their needs. I was a safe practitioner. But I became a midwife to be more than just safe. It shouldn’t even be a discussion as to whether we are safe or not – that should be a guarantee

I wasn’t able to advocate and facilitate their informed-decision making because I didn’t know what the options were in that situation for that family. That’s why I asked for guidance from a senior midwife. So I hid in the toilets and cried when the appointment was over. I cried because that family didn’t have the experience in their appointment that they should have had. I cried because I wasn’t the advocate and empowerer that I really strive to be. I cried because I was made to feel helpless.

The very person whose role is to support the team as the recognised ‘experienced’ midwife simply refused to help. And it’s the family that suffers because of it.

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