Midwives provide both emotional, practical and medical support to women and their families before, during and after birth.
This support includes:
- Monitoring the growth, progress and health of the unborn baby to prepare both mum and baby for a successful delivery.
- Supporting women with any pregnancy related issues such as morning sickness, pelvic pain and gestational diabetes.
- Offering advice to pregnant women on health matters such as diet and exercise.
- Helping pregnant women and their families come up with a birthing plan e.g. some women prefer to give birth at home if possible, whilst others would rather stay in hospital or in a birthing unit.
- Coaching women through each stage of childbirth, providing emotional support, pain relief and/or medical intervention if necessary.
- Monitoring the health of mum and baby in the initial hours and/or days after birth.
- Offering practical support to new mums on things such as breastfeeding, bathing and nutrition.
- Visiting mum and baby at home during the baby’s first couple of weeks of life to check on progress e.g. weighing the baby and making sure neither mum or baby are experiencing any complications following birth.
What skills do I need?
The right person will:
- Be caring, compassionate and supportive towards women and their families at all times.
- Be open to acquiring new skills and knowledge, that will aim to help keep mums and babies safe throughout pregnancy, birth and thereafter.
- Be able to work well under pressure, as although pregnancy and childbirth are completely natural processes, they sometimes come with challenges or complications.
- Be able to think quickly on your feet in case of an emergency.
- Have a genuine love of people and be passionate about providing the best care possible.
- Have excellent communication skills to reassure, educate and guide women and their families from conception through to birth.
- Be comfortable dealing with concerned families, as well as mums and babies.
- Be able to work as part of a team to achieve the best outcome possible for mums and babies e.g. with other midwives, doctors and health or social care professionals.
- Respect patient confidentiality and build trusting relationships with new mums and their families.
What will I love about the job?
- The satisfaction that comes with knowing that you are helping to bring new life into the world.
- Seeing how happy mums, dads and/or other family members are to be welcoming a new member (or possibly two!) into their family.
- Being reminded on a daily basis how miraculous human nature is.
- Being trusted enough to share special, private moments with birthing women and their families.
- Having cuddles with newborn babies.
- The variety; no two days will be the same due to the diverse nature of the people you’ll be helping.
- With the NHS, there’s a great deal of flexibility involved including part-time hours and shift work.
- You’ll never stop learning, and you’ll constantly be updating your bank of knowledge and experience.
What are the challenges?
- As nature would have it, not all pregnancies/births are straightforward but you will receive all the relevant training on how to deal with these situations when they arise.
- You’ll be on your feet a lot of the day; but this can be managed with comfy shoes and a healthy diet to sustain your energy levels.
- Women and their families can become difficult when they are concerned for their health or the health or their baby; this is to be expected and can usually be managed by listening, showing empathy and offering solutions and advice where appropriate.
How much will I earn?
The estimated starting salary for a newly qualified NHS midwife is £23,000, potentially rising to £36,000 plus.
Are there opportunities to progress?
Some Midwives move on to become Senior or Sister Midwives once they’ve built up sufficient skills and experience. There are also opportunities to progress into less hands on, related roles such as becoming a Health Visitor or Midwifery Consultant.
How do I get started?
Consider volunteering first
If you’re thinking about becoming a Midwife, it’s best to start by volunteering on the maternity ward at your local hospital – why not contact yours for more information? Here you’ll also get the chance to talk to other Midwives, Doctors and Healthcare professionals who can give you more insight into what a career in Midwifery is like, and clear up any queries or concerns you may have.
Apply for a Midwifery degree
To become a fully qualified Midwife, you’ll need a degree (but not a degree like most others!). You’ll get to become a Trainee Midwife, working and studying at the same time. The work you do at university e.g. learning the theory behind successfully delivering a baby, will be put into practice under supervision in an organised placement at a hospital – and you’ll typically spend more time on the job than you will in the classroom. Midwifery degree courses are typically full of mature students who are looking to start a second career and want to use their skills and life experience to help others.
Many universities across the country offer Midwifery degrees, so start by browsing those local to you. You can search for a full list of Midwifery degree courses (approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council). Each degree course is typically full time for three years – or 18 months if you’re already a trained Nurse – and will have individual requirements for entry. Upon successful completion of your Midwifery degree, you’ll go on to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and apply for your first job as a Midwife.
A note on cost
It’s important to remember that although training can be expensive, you’ll have the option to apply for grants, bursaries and/or student loans to help you with tuition fees and daily living. If you want to know more about fees and finances, it’s best to talk to the university you’re looking to apply to.