This is written for all the midwives out there . I have gathered comments from private messages and discussions on Facebook around what happens to us in times when Maternity Units are short staffed / have an increased workload/the impact of grief or emergency situations/ when Drs are too busy to attend the area
First of all it’s very important to reasses situations and recognise the women and babies who require high priority care .
Delegate a staff representative to inform the women & families that the unit is busy and give apologies – communication is very important and far better to explain the situation which may resolve, than to say nothing and leave families floundering and searching for clarity & information . If you envisage a delay be honest about it .Do not ignore people.
Inform the supervisor of midwives on call and the team leader , if this brings no support escalate yourself – we are all responsible and managers are not mind readers – again communication is the key . Better to avert an incident and keep the momentum of the staff than wait until something goes wrong .
Try to think strategically . If caring for someone who will need take home medication then start the main body of the electronic discharge to make the Drs load a bit lighter. In doing this you also streamline the woman’s paper journey through the system .
NHS staff are legally entitled to their breaks – so make sure you know who has had a break and who has not . If you are a leader you should show staff that you have had a break even if shorter than normal. Staff who feel cared for and valued work more effectively . We should all help one another .
File each paper record at each point of contact – I think of this as ‘record housekeeping’ Write each entry into notes as it has happened – this will prevent record keeping errors , contemporaneous records are much more accurate . Try hard to keep midwifery notes at each individuals bedside -not piled up en masse in the office . If every midwife files notes in an organised fashion then the midwife completing the discharge will have less to do .
Make the women who are unwell the priority . Delegate a member of staff to give a several women and families a group “going home” information chat this will reduce workload and is effective time management skill .
Ensure all medications are on time – women should be made aware when their treatment is due / times of appointments / scans etc – it’s no good if the only person on the area that knows is busy – true woman centred care means that women know what’s going on and this means times and schedules .
Some relatives are happy to help their partners / sisters / daughters / friends with a wash and if you explain that as the area is busy it might be useful – some women want a midwife or maternity support worker to help them which is part of our role .
Utilise and praise your maternity support workers – their role is invaluable they are not there to “make beds” but can perform venepuncture / observations / help with infant feeding support / take urgent samples to the lab / be the eyes and ears of the area
Try not to rush / dash / get stressed – you are doing the best you can – keep telling yourselves that – be proud
Plan a meeting every two hours standing to reassess the situation to ensure that staff have equal workloads – keep it fair .
At the end of the shift write down how you all felt and fill out an incident form highlighting key points . Its ok for other staff to say “yesterdays over” they are right but unless reflection and feedback take place which pick out the positive and negatives how will we ever learn ?
In times of stress it’s all too easy to get annoyed but I’d like you all to take on Brene Browns advice “Every person is doing their best”
Finally I’d like to recommend this to all of you click HERE – if you are busy & can’t think straight it will help you to realign yourselves – it’s also very useful for women & partners who are finding it hard to relax – a “switch off from everything ” a time treat that will improve concentration and promote self worth – thanks to Olvinda Armshaw for recommending it. It focuses on calm & breathing and refreshes you in the time it takes to boil an egg : )
I hope my advice helps you in some small way – you are all amazing – but you are midwives not soldiers – don’t be scared of saying “ENOUGH” – to do so is courageous , valiant and it’s the right thing – speak out , try your best and remember how wonderful you all are
Be extra specially vigilant for signs of burnout in yourself and others and don’t give yourself a hard time if you feel unwell – seek help & be kind to one another .
It’s good to thank everyone and have a group hug – positive actions reinforce good feelings
Thankyou for reading