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Q. What will students be doing?
A. The needs of students vary each year. In year one they are expected to ‘follow through’ women in the role of a support person. This means that once you consent to have a student involved with you the midwifery school will allocate a student to you. She will then make contact and arrange to meet. The student is expected to get to know you and your family and to provide support to you through pregnancy, labour, birth and the early postnatal period. The student is expected to accompany you to a certain number of your antenatal appointments where she has a mainly observational role although some opportunities for ‘hands on’ experience are appreciated (see below). She will be ‘on call’ for when you go into labour and will be there to help you (along with your midwife of course). Afterwards she will attend some of your postnatal visits from the midwife. The purpose of the ‘follow through’ experience in year one is to help midwifery students understand the childbirth experience through the eyes of pregnant women – what choices are available, what choices are made and what the experience is like.
In year two midwifery students also need to follow through a number of women but the focus is more on developing their midwifery skills and learning the role of midwife.
By year three students are putting all their learning together. They have several long placements with individual midwives and work alongside the midwife further developing their midwifery skills. If midwives have students working with them they will always ask your permission to involve the student in your care and you can decide whether you are happy with that, and what level of involvement you want the student to have.
Q. Will students be doing hands-on midwifery?
A. Yes, if you are happy with that. It is always up to you to decide if you are comfortable with the student doing anything hands-on, and your midwife will support you if you are not. Students are very flexible and they will always ask your consent before they do anything. The midwife will always be supervising the student. The nature of the hands-on care will depend on the year of study the student is in. First year students would only be hoping for a little hands-on experience, such as taking your blood pressure or feeling your tummy to learn how to assess the size and position of your baby. Second year students would be hoping to do a little more, such as examining your baby postnatally or checking your progress in labour. Third year students are closer to being ready to practice and would be hoping to have a greater hands-on role in your care. They are not asked to do more than is appropriate for the level they are at in the programme.
Q. Will students be supervised?
A. Yes. There will always be a midwife supervising any care given by students.
Q. What if I change my mind?
A. That is absolutely fine. You are free to change your mind at any time, and you can communicate that with your midwife, one of the Polytechnic teaching staff, or the student, whichever makes you feel more comfortable. Changing your mind will not affect your care in any way.
Q. What if I haven’t decided about her coming to the labour and birth?
A. Many women are unsure about this because it is such an intimate time. Getting to know your student through regular contact in your pregnancy will help you decide. Students will not assume they will be present at the labour and birth and will respect that it is your decision to make.
Q. Have students done nursing?
A. Students come from a wide variety of background. Most do not have a nursing qualification, and don’t have a history as a health professional, but many bring previous career experiences, and they all bring a range of life and clinical experiences with them. You can ask students about their background, if that is important to you, when you meet them.
Q. What support can I expect from the student?
A. Students will provide support in a midwifery context, which may include labour support, but won’t include childcare or cleaning.
Q. Does the student have children?
A. Some students have children and some do not. Students come with a range of life experiences. Feel free to ask the student if she has children.