If you’re working as a midwife on Christmas day then Christmas eve is probably the most difficult part. Whilst everyone is having fun and getting into the Christmas spirit, you are all to aware that your alarm will be going off early in the morning usually for a 12 hour shift.
But on your journey in on Christmas day, they’re is an added excitement about what may unfold on that day. In a hospital setting everyone makes an effort and it is the only time of year we are allowed and encouraged to dress up. Sometimes the temperature change of the warm hospital environment compared to the freezing cold is enough to make you happy to arrive at work but on Christmas day the units full of decorations and all your colleagues are usually in a good mood. Exchanging gifts and jovial cheers of “merry Christmas” can be heard down the corridors.
The atmosphere in a hospital is very different when compared to a home birth, mainly due to the bright lights, additional staff and the fact that not many labouring women want to be tucking into brussle sprouts and roast potatoes. We always get a Christmas dinner in the hospital complete with crackers and for desert we enjoy each others home-made mince pies and cakes. If it’s not too busy we usually go in twos for lunch so we don’t have to eat alone. Somebody will always bring in a Christmas CD and you cannot help but feel the Christmas spirit which can be seen throughout the workforce…you get to see a very different side to management on Christmas day.
When the mothers arrive in labour, they’re always a little shocked that it is happening on Christmas day. I don’t think anyone ever plans for this but when it happens the mother and her birth partner are more excited than usual and it does seem some what extra special. After all Christmas, in my opinion, is all about the coming together of family.
When you are delivering a baby regardless of time, night or day, your focus is solely on the health and welfare of both mother and baby and nothing distracts you from that. As midwives we never view our duty lightly, while we enjoy the Christmas celebrations the responsibilities of the job are always at the forefront of our minds.
The atmosphere after birth regains the lighter atmosphere and there is cause for double celebration. I once facilitated two births on Christmas day, they both unfolded completely different but I found myself more elevated than usual after both births. Funnily enough on Christmas day the new parents seem to get more visitors, which is lovely to see. But it is difficult to not allow your mind to wonder for a second on what you’re family are doing at that time.
Sometimes there is a slight delay on taking the baby home at Christmas due to adverse weather conditions. Once a couple and baby were fit for discharge but the snow was falling so heavily that they stayed with us in hospital for another three hours. Getting into hospital when due around Christmas maybe a concern but I always encourage expectant parents not worry about something out of their control. In the worst case scenario, we will always be able to get to you.
Something you learn very quickly as a midwife, is that you have to be dedicated because baby’s come all hours everyday of the week. So for me personally working a Christmas feels like part of my duty and vow to the mothers and babies. Of course I wouldn’t like to work every Christmas but we would never be asked to do that. Come to think of it I haven’t worked for the last two Christmas’, so I think I am due a Christmas shift and I will be excited to be part of what is a very special day for everyone involved on the Maternity ward.