The job of being an MSW has many different aspects. So many, in fact, that I find it difficult to narrow them down. So instead, I’ll describe the different parts of my job that make it so special.
For starters, it means being an integral part of the maternity service and an important asset to the never-ending workload of all the midwives. I think that a big part of my role is to improve the working lives of staff delivering maternity services. I also get to share the endless bewilderment, joy and happiness that new mums, dads and their families experience as they gaze in wonder at their precious new bundles. I get to share with them those first wonderful days of caring for their new babies. It also means I have the task of holding the hand of a petrified dad, showing him how to change his child’s first nappy while the mum looks on adoringly.
I am the voice of encouragement and support when a sleep-deprived mum is at her wits’ end and struggling to latch the baby onto her breast. I am also the voice of praise and congratulations when her baby finally latches on and feeds like a dream. Another part of my job is to provide practical help, such as giving a new mum her first cup of tea or helping her with the simplest of things, such as lifting her baby out of the cot after she has just had a CS and is struggling to move. It could mean I have to help her out of bed for the first time after she has had surgery, when she is apprehensive and worried, and feels her body is not her own.
It’s not all cups of tea, though. Sometimes I have to be an emotional support as well – providing a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on when a baby is unexpectedly admitted to the neonatal unit. Whatever the circumstances, I am there to offer a personalised service that meets each woman’s individual needs.
All the work I do – clerical work, observations, blood glucose monitoring and parent education – helps to free up midwives’ time, so they can admit and discharge clients and liaise with the medical team. It means I am an enhancement to the care midwives provide for women.
Overall, I feel valued and satisfied being an MSW. It feels like my job is essential to the future of maternity services and in enabling midwives to make choice a reality for women. Being an MSW means everything to me.
Julie Thurogood is an MSW at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust