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Brain ache - waiting on the second eureka moment...

An RCM Communities user and student discusses her dissertation thought processes and putting ideas on paper.

Brain ache
Dissertation deadline is fast approaching, end of May. The process began months ago when a vast array of inspirational speakers grabbed my attention at the RCM conference back in November. Following this, I spent many hours reading and discussing different ideas with experienced midwives whose opinions I trust. Numerous potential topics that I was eager to explore then emerged, ranging from ‘specialist antenatal clinics and services for non-English speaking women and families’, ‘the long-term benefits of touch: encouraging skin to skin contact for all mums/babies’, ‘do we need vaginal examinations in normal labour?’ to ‘supporting women to breastfeed beyond the first 24 hours’ and so on. The list of subjects on which I could enthuse was endless.

You may notice a theme of ‘midwifery’ rather than all the current terminology of ‘risk’. With Ina May Gaskin’s book, Ina May’s guide to childbirth, as bedtime reading, I really want to look at how to change our culture to facilitate women to have renewed confidence in their abilities to labour and birth. The idea of regenerating ‘storytelling’ as an art form began to emerge and I discussed with senior midwives, ways of looking at this question. The way we as (student) midwives talk with women and the words we use that often trivialise the interventions we propose; are we getting informed consent or ‘coerced compliance’? Sadly I soon realised I can’t change the world overnight with a degree dissertation and it had to be achievable, especially as the clock was starting to tick louder.

Then while listening to speakers at a normalising birth study day at the university, I had my ‘eureka’ moment. How often have we cared for a woman attending the labour ward in the early phase of labour? She has been sent home, ‘not even in labour yet’ – this struck a chord with me, as I heard those words in my first labour. After 22 hours of painful contractions, I was devastated to learn that I ‘wasn’t in labour’. It felt like it to me and I lost all confidence in how I would cope with the rest of the process. Lots of studies have compared triaging systems to find the most cost effective. Few have looked in detail at women’s experiences. So I decided to ask: How do women want to be cared for in the latent phase of labour?

I’ve heard it said that a dissertation is like eating an elephant: one piece at a time. The biggest and chewiest piece is what I’m doing now, going round and round in circles, surrounded by paper, reading one article and then following up those references, then reading those and so on, hoping that my second ‘eureka’ moment – how to put all these ideas on paper – is just around the corner.


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