Student midwife Kirsty Roebuck and her maternity unit colleagues are working even harder to ensure mother and baby are as healthy and happy as ever

IN the midst of the Covid-19 emergency, new life goes on.  And student midwives are playing an important part in making sure that hospital births are as healthy and happy as ever.

Morale is high, but the necessity for personal protective equipment (PPE) has meant some changes and challenges, according to the University of Huddersfield’s Kirsty Roebuck, who is in the final stages of her BSc degree in Midwifery Studies.  

Currently based at a labour ward in Halifax – where she has previously been on placement – she will soon meet the target of 40 births over three years that is an important element in the completion of her course.

Study Midwifery and Nursing at Huddersfield

She and her fellow midwives are now having to carry out their duties while wearing PPE, including face masks, and this has made a major impact, said Kirsty.

“In our job it does create a bit of a barrier.  We don’t generally wear masks and when it first came in, it was strange.  We are women-centred and the PPE means we can’t be as personal.  We don’t really see people’s faces properly,” she explained.

But midwives are doing their best to overcome the issue and ensure that levels of care are as high as ever.

“We are speaking to women in the same manner as before,” said Kirsty, adding that midwifery had key differences to nursing.

“We don’t call our women ‘patients’, for one thing.  They’re not ill.  Generally, they are young, fit and healthy.  When you are on a labour ward, you have got to build up a rapport quickly.  It is becoming easier as we get used to having the masks.”

Just as student nurses – including hundreds studying at the University of Huddersfield – are ensuring that frontline hospital workforces are up to strength during the fight against Covid-19, trainee midwives, such as Kirsty, are vital in keeping maternity units fully staffed.

Normally, third-year midwifery students would have now been on work placement in the community and in antenatal/postnatal wards.  But in response to the coronavirus emergency, most, like Kirsty, are working in maternity units.

Morale is as good if not better than ever, despite pressure created by staff shortages, said Kirsty.

“I think people are just pulling together a bit more.  There is a really good atmosphere on the labour ward.”

Kirsty will qualify later in the year and then experience work in varied hospital and community settings as her new career takes shape.

Kirsty previously served in the Royal Air Force as a dental nurse, but when she had two daughters, now aged 9 and 7, the experience made her realise that midwifery was the healthcare route she wanted to take.

After a spell as a full-time mum, she took an access course at Yeovil College in Somerset before enrolling on the Midwifery Studies degree at Huddersfield.  She is confident that she made the right degree and career choice.

“As a midwife I am able to care for people but in a completely different way to nursing.  We are the women’s advocate.  If they have a traumatic birth it could affect them for years to come, so being there for them and giving one-to-one care really helps them have that positive outcome.”

Kirsty Roebuck, BSc(Hons) in Midwifery Studies

The University of Huddersfield currently has 154 student midwives, with 42 in their final year. 

Pat Jones, who heads the University’s Division of Maternal Health, praised their role in the Covid-19 crisis.

“They work hard to facilitate close working relationships with the women they care for and wearing PPE obviously makes this difficult,” she said.

“We would like to thank all of our students for the way in which they have responded to the current situation, for their hard work throughout the year and their contribution to keeping women and their babies safe and well.”

More Stories

Mental health nurse’s Facebook site helps others

Mental health nurse Sophie Rane’s Facebook innovation will enable those struggling to help themselves or reach out for help

Urgent & Emergency nursing course starts 2021

The innovative Urgent and Emergency Care Nursing Associate Apprenticeship received funding from Health Education England

Health staff suffering skin damage from face masks

Professor of Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention Karen Ousey suggests remedies to healthcare staff and the general public