Your first 1,000 days of being a Midwife are just as important as the 1,000 days after birth.
Midwife and ANMF ACT Branch Councillor, Jessie Price, recalls her first few days of being a midwife as being exciting and full of pride.
“I was so stoked to be there and to be doing the job. I remember signing my first registration papers one night for a patient, and you have to write that you are a Registered Midwife. I was so thrilled and proud.”
Whilst in the middle of a very successful career in journalism, reporting on the humanitarian crisis happening at the Thailand-Burma border, Jessie worked alongside Korean refugee women, documenting a range of different projects. It’s during that time, she discovered the ‘Where There is No Doctor’ book and became fascinated by health and more specifically, by women’s health.
Shortly after, Jessie moved back to Australia to complete her Bachelor in Midwifery before moving to Canberra to complete her Graduate year. Since her journalism days, Jessie has become a Registered Midwife, assisted the birth of dozens of babies, and an ANMF ACT Workplace Delegate and is now an ANMF ACT Branch Councillor.
The journey hasn’t always been easy, and the job definitely comes with its challenges but Jessie says that becoming a Midwife was, and always will be, about helping other women and making a difference in the world.
“A big part of what drew me to midwifery was the sacredness of being part of women’s business together with other women. It’s a really special, profound real time; there’s nothing more real than the murkiness of giving birth and how special it is.”
Jessie loved her job from the very beginning, but her first days of being a Midwife definitely came with anticipations: “I think you come out of your degree and you’ve just learnt so much and you feel like you’ve passed your exams and you’ve done all this placement. And then you come to your graduate year and it is the steepest learning curve. You feel like you’re learning a whole new thing all over again. It’s about learning how the system works within a hospital, you’re learning the culture in the maternity unit and having each other’s back, it’s just all those little things that you don’t learn from a textbook.”
Celebrating eight years in the job this month, Jessie reflects on the early stages of her career with pride and appreciation: “I finished my graduate year and then moved to permanent nights for three and a half years. That was such an amazing experience because it’s long shifts, there’s fewer staff around and it’s autonomous. You’re working closely with one another as a team, you’ve got each other’s back, it’s just really lovely.” As for every job, but especially one that can be emotionally and physically draining, having support is essential.
For Jessie, it has been one of the many factors contributing to her successful career so far: “It’s absolutely essential to have support. Midwives provide beautiful support to one another, we talk about things, brainstorm, tell each other stories and get issues off our chest, work out what happened and what we could do differently. We reflect together on our practice and we’re always learning.”
“Then we have the union behind us which is amazing. To have them fighting for us on the important issues, so that we can do our job the way we want to do it and so we
can focus on doing the best that we can, focusing on patient care.”
Today, Jessie works in the birth centre in Calvary Public Hospital, in the continuity caseload model of care, looking after women from about sixteen weeks from their booking visit, all the way through their pregnancy, until ten days after birth: “You have this really beautiful relationship together where, as a midwife, you have this broader understanding of the patterns of what’s normal in childbirth and pregnancy, and then the woman obviously knows herself really well. Through developing that relationship, you’re really working together, while respecting what she thinks of that relationship in terms of her knowledge and desires of what she wants out of her birth experience.”
“The most important aspect of my role is for the woman to feel that she is making the decisions, that she is
in charge of what she does, and that things don’t happen to her without her control. Even when things don’t go to
plan, the woman should still feel like she is making the decisions and that she understands what is happening.
The most important thing is the woman’s integrity.”
Reflecting on her first 1000 days as a Midwife, the last eight years, and looking towards the future, Jessie says
that looking after yourself is the best advice she has received and would give to anyone about to embark on a similar journey.
“Make sure you eat well and get enough sleep. Spend time with your family and do all the things that nourish you. Our job is really special and it matters. Birth matters and our own care matters. So look after yourself beautifully so you can give beautiful care.”