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Amy Smith: life as a Maternity Care Assistant

A BIT ABOUT ME… 

My start in the healthcare sector wasn’t easy. I didn’t choose this profession when I first thought about what I wanted to do after I left full time education, I had always wanted to become a midwife, but I believed at the time that I wasn’t good enough to apply to college and university, despite receiving high grades at secondary school. So, I previously trained as a hairdresser up until about two and a half years ago when I decided to leave the hair industry and aim to achieve my dream to be a midwife one day.  

Because of never going through further education I wanted to get some experience working in healthcare behind me before I considered doing any qualifications, so I started my journey by working as a dementia care assistant in a local care home for six months which then followed on to gaining a”gold dust” position as a maternity care assistant at the hospital I’m still currently at.  

WHAT IS A MATERNITY CARE ASSISTANT?  

As a service we rely on maternity care assistants to be able to provide the best possible care to our pregnant mothers. Maternity care assistants (MCA) support midwives and obstetric doctors in caring for women and their babies through the vital stages of pregnancy, antenatally and postpartum. The best part of being a maternity care assistant is that you have the flexibility to choose where you want to work, whether that’s in antenatal clinic, high risk delivery suite, low risk birthing unit or community and are able to change yearly on a rotation if you so wish to.   

The role of a maternity care assistant is diverse, rewarding and overall the most amazing job role I have ever had. However, it is not always sunshine and rainbows, many people say to me “What a lovely job you have, cuddling babies all day” it is not always the case. This job can be quite challenging at times, especially during an emergency. But I always love the unpredictability it brings, you never know who will come through the door next and knowing that the particular skill base that I have achieved over the last two years of being a maternity care assistant I know I will be able to deal with whatever task is at hand to a high standard.  

The ideal skills and characteristics needed to be a maternity care assistant are; caring and patient, both with the users of the service and your fellow colleagues. Able to deal with pressure situations and be capable in your own skills and knowledge to follow instructions and procedures given to you by your supervisors. 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…  

My day to day job consists of working in antenatal and gynaecology clinics, which can include; working in the blood room to screen for chromosomal abnormalities in pregnancy, chaperone different antenatal clinics such as, diabetes, thyroid, birth choices and twin clinics. As well as working in gynaecology, colposcopy, hysteroscopy and fertility clinics.  

As one of the senior maternity care assistants I also complete the working rotas, plan chaperone lists for my fellow colleagues and arrange cover when we are short staffed.  

Everyday is different and they all come with new challenges to overcome. My day in the hospital usually starts about 8am and I will begin the day by setting up the clinic rooms with the notes of the patients we will be seeing that morning and prepping the rooms, making sure it is fully equipped for any examinations that may take place. When the doctor arrives I would take the patients maternity notes and urine samples to which I would then test their sample to make sure they are not developing a urinary tract infection and also work out their gestation either by looking at their ultrasound scan, their grow chart (this is where midwives and/or sonographers plot the growth of the baby throughout the woman’s pregnancy at different gestations) at the back of their book or by working it out myself by using a gestational wheel.  

Next the doctor will devise an individual care plan for the woman and will organise different tests and appointments wherever necessary. Which will then follow onto completing an antenatal check. This consists of listening into the fetal heartbeat and also measure the fundal height, if the woman is over 26-28 weeks gestation.  

My job during these clinics is to chaperone the doctor whilst he does the antenatal checks and also document when the patient entered and exited the room, their gestation, what happened during their visit – did they perform a stretch and sweep or listen to the fetal heartbeat. And the outcomes of their appointment – when are they coming back, have they been booked for an Elective Caesarean section or have they been downgraded to low risk and then discharged to the care of the community midwife. 

WHY I CHOSE TO COMPLETE MY SENIOR HEALTHCARE APPRENTICESHIP WITH WEST SUFFOLK COLLEGE 

I chose to complete my studies with West Suffolk College because even though I work in Basildon the tutors travel down to the hospital once a month to deliver a group taught session and then assign different assessments for us to complete until we see them again. What I love about doing my training through work is that I am able to learn alongside working and that I didn’t have to leave my job to go back to full time education. I would highly recommend everyone who is thinking of completing their Healthcare qualifications to do it through a college like West Suffolk as they are extremely supportive in helping you achieve your potential. 

My future goal is to continue my studies to work my way up to become a qualified midwife and to bring new life into the world as I have a passion for woman’s healthcare and I want to extend my knowledge for the woman I will one day care for. As midwifery is an art, and the best way for any artist to get better is through practice, patience and learning new practices as well as brushing up on old techniques.  

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