Episode 4 of Eavesdrop is an interview with a midwife, Susanne Grainger.
Rebekah works is a midwife working in an emergency clinic in Manchester. In her interview with Lily Jo they discussed:
- The impact of COVID-19 on the midwife profession.
- How the public is coping and responding to medical professionals.
- How the COVID outbreak has changed Susanne’s perspective.
Here’s a brief recap of their conversation.
Lily-Jo’s Interview With Rebekah Cook.
Q: What is your typical day like now?
“Our days are very different! We do long days from 7:30 am til 8:30 pm, and we usually help women who are labouring and delivering or people who are on the wards, waiting for assessments or procedures. We see about 60 patients in a day, it’s very fast-paced and decisions have to be made quickly and it’s a high pressured environment.”
“COVID has changed things for us both practically and emotionally. Practically, we can’t do anything without PPE – visors, masks and gloves. It’s hot and takes time and it can be inconvenient when you are in an environment as intense as ours and you see as many different patients in a day as we do! I’m not complaining though, we have it light! Nurses in critical care have to wear so much more, so I really feel for my colleagues in those situations.”
“For us, the emotional impact is the biggest change. For people who are patients, seeing us in PPE is really disconcerting and uncomfortable. As a midwife, a lot of what we do is based on personal connection and having a barrier between us and the patient makes that so much harder. This isn’t made easier for the changes hospitals have been forced to make regarding admissions of friends and family. A patient is allowed a birthing partner for established labour – but only one other person and only in established labour. Patients who are coming in early, who might be induced, their birth partner will have to wait in the car until established labour starts. This can be really hard for the patient and means that we have to often step up to provide additional emotional support where we can.”
Q: How is the public responding to you?
“There has been so much unexpected generosity. Midwives generally just crack on with stuff, we don’t expect to be thanked as such, so we were so surprised to receive gifts and treats from the public. It’s been amazing! We’ve had pizza, doughnuts, toiletries and so many other gifts! We’ve also noticed that more patients are really taking the time to be grateful and give us feedback about how they are feeling supported and looked after by us. That is so encouraging.
“We’ve found that there has been real solidarity between patients who are on the wards together without their birth partners. We’ve seen a lot of support and care when usually patients might be quite insular and only talking to their birth partner, but patients are really stepping out of their comfort zones to get to know each other and come together to support one another.”
Q: How is COVID-19 changing your personal outlook on life?
“COVID has been like ripples. At first, it seemed like the ripples were really far away and now, as people we know get sick and sadly pass away, the ripples feel closer and closer and it has more and more of an impact on us and that’s making me more reflective.
“It’s taught me not to sweat the small stuff and not to compare myself to others. Ultimately, the things that matter most to me are making sure that I do a good job at work and that I keep my kids safe by not bringing the virus home. I think that if you and your family come out of it alive and without loads of debt, you’re doing well. It just makes me want to down tools and really cherish the time I have with my family without comparing myself to others.”
“I’ve struggled with suffering from severe anxiety in the past, and I’ve developing coping techniques to help with that and I’m actually able to use these techniques to help others in my work environment. Mindfulness is really important to me, it helps me be in the moment and be aware of others and their struggles, so I really try to take the time to really get into my patients’ pregnancy journey and be there for them. It helps me be distracted and it helps them too.”
Susanne is risking her life every day for the safety of others, and their unborn children. Her message to the public is:
“We wouldn’t be able to fight the fight without people staying at home. We would be too saturated with poorly people. It’s only getting better because people are staying at home. So hang in there, stick it out, because it’s actually the people who are staying at home who are doing the most important thing to help stop the virus.”
Want the whole story? Catch the full podcast episode on The Lily-Jo Project website here, or listen wherever you get your podcasts.
If you are in search of more mental health resources and advice, visit www.thelilyjoproject.com/#help.