Personally, my favourite shifts to do are night shifts! Some people think I’m mad, well I am but it helps. Seriously though, I don’t struggle to sleep through the day, in fact I love the feeling of leaving a night shift in the morning, seeing people drive to work for the day ahead and I’m on my way home to BED! 🙂 I find myself wanting to wave goodnight- bit strange ha ha.
On my first night shift, I try to get a couple of hours sleep in the afternoon, usually about 1-4pm. If I can manage to get to sleep this helps, if not just the resting has its advantages. I’ll wake up around 4-4.30pm, shower and eat then slowly come round for my night ahead. At first, make up was a must for me, but that quickly changed!! The splash of cold water on my face at 4am is very necessary sometimes!!
On my latest placement I haven’t yet done a night shift (1930-0800). My current mentors tend to work long days (0730-2000), earlies (0730-1530) or lates (1200-2000). However, on my last night shift, I was on the postnatal ward. The shift started by taking part in handover from the previous staff and then deciding which women we would take care of for the foreseeable future. My mentor and I would then simultaneously introduce ourselves and ask if the women had any current needs, for example pain relief. We would then check the notes of the women and babies we had, and check to see if there were any observations required overnight. I will always make a note of these in a pocket notebook- it helps! This particular night was a steady one (I won’t say the ‘Q’ (quiet) word!) So during my time where I have no obs due or needed to answer any buzzers, I ensure my portfolio is up-to-date and check to see if there are any guidelines I could be reading!
FOOD!! Massively important – especially for me on a night shift. Some nights I can go without eating, simply because I don’t get the feeling that I’m hungry. However this soon disappears and food takes over. I crave sugary, fatty foods on a night shift which is not good for the ‘Night Shift Bloats’ a serious medical diagnosis (honest, it happens). However, I have found the magical effects of Peppermint Tea- a now staple drink for me when I’m on nights- and very refreshing.
Be prepared with lots of healthy snacks- cucumber is a personal fave of mine. Small things that don’t take long to eat and don’t sit too heavy on your stomach making you sleepy. Let’s be honest, on a night if you are looking after a labouring woman, you need the energy as much as she does when it comes to the birth! Plus, if this is imminent- you don’t want to miss it because you’re tucking into a 3 course meal in the staff room lol!!
Breaks! are important on nights, although when very busy I’ve been known to refuse a break, and cheekily asked to leave a little earlier (to miss the traffic). Sometimes this is do-able, sometimes not, it depends on mentors!
It is important to have a little break to yourself, a moment to gather your thoughts, nights are a strange thing, completely against your body clock, and please be safe when travelling home!! Most of all, enjoy the nights with your women and families.
Hi Jade, my name is Ella and I am a first year student midwife at UoN. I start my first ever lot of night shifts next week and this has been super helpful. I’m very excited, thank you!