Objective: first year midwifery students learn early in semester about situations in midwifery where a high level of emotion is expressed, such as taking a sexual history, being faced with the body image changes of pregnancy and working with women in the extreme pain of labour. Commencing students usually have not had exposure to the realities of studying and working in midwifery, and often have an idealised view of midwifery that may lead to attrition from the course. We aimed to equip students with personal and professional tools to discuss sensitive issues in midwifery and promote self-care through the development of two workshops. The first workshop focussed on sensitive issues in midwifery and the second on self-care strategies.
Design: quantitative and qualitative data were collected pre and post workshops using a survey.
Setting: the workshops were developed at one university in New South Wales, Australia. Participants: Beginning first year midwifery students
Measurements: feeling more comfortable, confident and knowledgeable was measured using a paired t-test from the responses on a pre and post workshop survey. Content analysis was performed on the qualitative survey responses.
Findings: there were significant increases in the students feeling more comfortable to discuss sensitive issues in midwifery following the first workshop. They found meeting new people, respecting opinions, normalizing confronting topics to be valuable and useful. The second workshop found significant differences in being more confident and knowledgeable to access and try new self-care strategies in both their personal and professional life. Students discussed learning to be more mindful in order to prepare for stressful situations. They became aware of their feeling and thoughts when under stress and said they would practice techniques including meditation.
Conclusion: the workshops assisted the students to develop peer support, self-care strategies and coping mechanisms when faced with the intimate and sometimes confronting nature of midwifery practice. Through embedding these first year workshops early in the degree we hope to address attrition rates and facilitate the students’ to become the compassionate, caring, woman-centred midwives that they envisioned.
Implications for practice: the workshops have the potential for replication in other universities to support and nurture beginning midwifery students.