How to become a midwife
Midwives offer advice, care and practical support to expectant and new mothers. They are present throughout the pregnancy and delivery of a baby and are essential for ensuring the wellbeing on the mother and child. Midwives are recognised as being kind, sympathetic, trustworthy and confident and this brings security to expecting parents.
£22,000 to £48,000
A guide to the midwifery profession
Being a midwife is a physically and emotionally demanding job but offers rewards that are arguable unparalleled. Your day to day life as a midwife may see you meeting newly pregnant couples, delivering babies or maintaining medical records. This varied role will require you to have very specific qualifications and skills but often captivates so quickly that a midwife remains in the career for several decades.
What qualifications will I need to become a midwife?
To become a midwife, you will need to meet some qualification and registration requirements. This includes:
- A degree in midwifery. This degree will normally take 3 years if studied on a full-time basis.
- You must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
- An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Check (DBS)
If a registered nurse would like to become a midwife, it may be possible for them to complete the additional training in as little as 18 months, without having to start their qualification requirements afresh completely.
You will study a host of medical and midwifery specific cases during your degree. Your academic studies will be supported by practical experience in a hospital with mothers who have consented to a student presence. Your education and training will ensure that you understand all aspects of conception, pregnancy, birth and early stages for a baby. What’s more, you will be taught about potential complications and how to maintain the safety of the mother and child.
Essential Skills for Being a Midwife
Being a midwife means that you will be expected to be as emotionally invested as you are practically, and as such, you will need some essential skills. This includes:
- The ability to instil confidence and trust into others, particularly ladies who are nervous about the delivery of their child.
- Excellent communication skills.
- The ability to explain medical matters to others in an understandable and calm way.
- To be calm in potentially high pressured situations.
- To act methodically and in line with all regulations.
- To maintain records and provide efficient administrative support.
- To work as part of a team.
- To provide updates on patient cases concisely and coherently to other medical professionals if required.
- To administer medication when necessary.
- Excellent organisational skills.
- The ability to make decisions quickly
Day to day work of a midwife
The daily work of a midwife can be varied throughout a week, but each task will draw on the essential skills outlined above. A midwife is most likely to work for the NHS in a hospital but may also be found in private medical settings or delivering a baby at home or in an unexpected environment. Once the practical elements of a job are completed each day, the midwife will be required to complete records of their activities and to detail in writing how their patients are.
A midwife’s day to day activities might include:
- Giving advice to expectant parents about maintaining health for the mother and child, both during pregnancy and after.
- Providing nutritional support and suggestions to expectant and new mothers.
- Delivering babies
- Offering information on different delivery options to expectant parents
- Managing pregnancy and birth related classes.
- Being present during labour and taking regular observations of the mother and child to confirm progression.
- Offering medication and pain relief when needed.
- Liaising with other medical professionals including doctors, anaesthetists and surgeons.
- Maintaining thorough written records about all cases.
Once a baby has been born, the midwife may follow up on the development and wellbeing of the new family by conducting home visits or phone calls. This role is normally undertaken by a health visitor but in some areas, is supported by a midwife team.
How much will I be paid as a midwife?
A newly qualified and inexperienced midwife will usually have a starting salary of around £22,000. With experience, this salary can increase to in excess of £40,000 for midwives who take on supervisory or training roles.
Those who are highly experienced and have a consultant position can expect to earn up to £48,000.
Career progression for a midwife
Every midwife will be required to renew the NMC registration on a three yearly basis. This helps to ensure that the midwife’s skills are kept up to date and their knowledge remains current.
For midwives who want to progress their careers, it may be possible to undertake further training to specialise in a specific area such as neonatal care or ultrasounds.
Midwives who are experienced and who demonstrate leadership skills may be able to apply for promotion to become a ward manager, midwifery consultant, team leader or student midwife trainer.
Working hours and environment for a midwife
A midwife will usually work around 37 hours each week. The hours for a midwife can be unsociable and will include night shifts, weekend work and bank holidays.
Midwives will usually divide their time between different settings including hospitals, community placements, GP surgeries, sexual health clinics and sometimes home visits.
The job of a midwife is physically and emotionally demanding. Most hospitals won’t demand that a new midwife takes a medical examination but some might suggest it to ensure that they meet any additional medical or health needs for their staff.