My time as a graduate midwife was a mixed bag of experiences and emotions.
It was rewarding, stimulating, challenging and inspiring. I loved the exciting opportunity of meeting a wide variety of people. The diversity of the experience was a big part of the joy.
I thoroughly enjoyed building on my communication skills and developing creative ways to connect and develop a rapport with women and their families. The difference I discovered I made to people’s lives was an experience I had not had in such a profound way before.
Alongside all the positives were challenges that were sometimes difficult to face. The workload came as a shock even though as a student I had a taste of what it would be like.
Juggling competing demands was tough, as was the intensive learning I had to take on. Late nights and early mornings, often over five days of work in a row made it challenging to fight off low energy and fatigue. I became critical of myself, which made learning even harder.
What did I do to support myself through this period of transition?
I had always had a keen interest and passion for health and wellbeing and knew it was imperative that I develop a good self-care plan during this time.
My tips for success include:
- Healthy eating: cooking my own meals and planning so that I did not end up eating on the run. I Included a lot of vegetables and fruit and healthy fats and protein with each meal. I ensured that I ate three meals a day and avoided sugary processed foods. This helped keep my energy levels stable and my brain functioning optimally.
- Exercise: I aimed to do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. This usually meant going for a brisk walk outside, yoga, or weight training at the gym. I always felt better if I incorporated exercise into my regime.
- Sleep: I did my best to keep to a regular sleep schedule, aiming to go to bed at around the same time every night and trying to get 8 hours of sleep. I avoided looking at phones and other devices at least two hours before bed to reduce stimulation prior to sleep.
- Social time: enjoying time with friends and family and making sure I stayed socially connected really made a huge difference. Time out having fun and letting my hair down kept a good work/life balance going.
- Mindfulness/meditation: I meditated when I had time, even if it was just for 10–15 minutes. This assisted me to reset, feel more relaxed and less stressed.
- Nature time: going for walks such as a bush walk or just getting outside and sitting in the sun was a huge stress buster for me. Nature is very rejuvenating, and it’s nice to be still and quiet when you are very busy in life.
- Mentoring: I knew that finding a mentor who had been through what I had and had wisdom about the profession would be useful. My friend’s mother had been a midwife for over 20 years, so I regularly chatted with her to get support and help with what I was going through. This enabled me to keep things in perspective and not get too bogged down in the small stuff.
Embrace your graduate year. It may be a challenging experience but it will be rewarding. Your contribution and commitment will reward you. Be kind to yourself and seek support whenever you need it.
And remember, Nurse & Midwife Support is only a phone call: 1800 667 877 or click away: nmsupport.org.au