The world of pre and postnatal care is of the utmost importance. Mothers of all ages are always looking for someone to help them with the usual worries and difficulties that come with pregnancy, this is where a midwife is invaluable.
But it’s not just pregnancy that people need a midwife for. Plenty of midwives are involved in post-natal care, providing advice, support and general assistance for newborn babies.
It is for these reasons that a midwife is one of the most popular jobs in the UK. Midwives need to have a degree-level qualification, extensive training and a desire to provide the best care possible.
What is a Midwife?
A midwife is someone who provides advice and cares for women and their newborns during and after pregnancy. Midwives are only present for the early stages of the postnatal period, but some have been known to stay on a bit longer if the mother or father is struggling.
Midwives are also there to provide support for mothers. They will advise on parenting, offer tips for dealing with children, help with birth plans, give health education and will ease the transition over to a health advisor.
Midwives will work in a variety of settings. The most obvious is with home visits during the pregnancy period, however, you will also be required to work in hospitals or in healthcare centres.
You will need a degree before you can train as a midwife.
There are a lot of responsibilities for a midwife to handle. If you move into senior positions, you will likely take on non-vocational responsibilities alongside your usual tasks.
The main duties of a midwife are:
- Assist in labour.
- Attend and carry out screening tests.
- Create health programmes for patients to follow.
- Keep detailed and meticulous records.
- Monitor the health and wellbeing of mother and child.
- Offer advice and support regarding sensitive subjects, such as miscarriage, neonatal abnormality, neonatal death, stillbirth and termination.
- Provide antenatal care.
- Provide information to health advisors when your care is transitioned over to other medical professionals.
- Provide or refer patients to counselling.
- Refer patients to doctors where needed.
It is essential to build a good relationship with your patients. More than other medical roles, a midwife must be able to make their patients feel at ease and be able to provide them with the care that they cannot get from elsewhere.
Midwife wages are attached to the NHS fixed pay scale known as the Agenda for Change. As a result, the starting salary for a midwife comes under the Band 5 bracket (sometimes known as the midwife band 5 salary), which means that a midwife starting salary is around the £25,000 range.
Despite this, you can expand into the Brand 6 bracket. Within this range, the midwife annual salary will be between £30,000 and £40,000 depending on your experience.
Once you move into Band 7, you will be working at a more senior level. This is generally around the point that you are taking on more management responsibilities, so as a result, midwives’ salary will rise to between £41,000 and £45,000.
It is possible to move into Band 8b and 8c, where your job role will change significantly. At this level, you will be earning anywhere between £50,000 and £75,000.
You will need a degree before you can train as a midwife. Whatever midwifery courses you study will need to be approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). Some employers have been known to accept people without degrees provided they have relevant work experience or have completed an apprenticeship, but this is rare.
It is not possible to have another degree to become a midwife unless that degree is approved by the NMC. Those with medical-based degrees cannot still apply, as midwifery has specific qualifications needed to be a midwife, however, you can as long as you have also studied midwifery either at a postgraduate or undergraduate level.
As a result of studying for a medical degree, you are eligible for funding support. This means that you may be able to claim financial support through the NHS bursary. We recommend looking into this before you start your degree.
Work experience is not required for this role, however, it will give you an exceptional advantage over other candidates.
Training and development
Training and development are key to being a midwife. There are a number of qualifications for midwifery available and most hospitals or healthcare centres on the NHS will have training programmes available for you, but you are also encouraged to seek out further training on your own. To begin with, you will start out under the guidance of an experienced colleague, who will offer advice and help.
Throughout your career as a midwife, you need to remain registered with the NMC. In order to maintain your registration with the NMC, you need to meet the council’s revalidation requirements, which are:
- 35+ hours of continuing professional development (CPD).
- 450 practice hours (900 if you are also a nurse).
- 5 in-depth case studies.
- 5 pieces of practice-related feedback.
- Discussions with other professionals.
- Have all of the above signed off by a “confirmer”.
- Health and character declaration.
- Professional indemnity arrangement.
This process allows you to keep your skills honed and also teaches you about advancements in the sector. You can also take on more specialist courses in enhanced midwifery, family planning and teaching. Institutions such as the Royal College of Midwives offer these courses and other midwife qualifications.
There are a number of skills required to be a midwife. Your skills will improve over time and you will soon learn new skills as a part of your work and through further training and development.
- An ability to think on your feet.
- An ability to work under pressure.
- An empathetic nature.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Excellent organisational skills.
- Excellent physical fitness and stamina.
- Good bedside manner.
You will also have to learn other, non-vocational skills, as you rise through the ranks. Those in senior positions will need to learn management skills and will need to be able to manage people in high-pressured situations.
A midwife is someone who provides advice and cares for women and their newborns during and after pregnancy.
Work experience is not required for this role, however, it will give you an exceptional advantage over other candidates. Any form of medical experience is a big bonus, whether paid or voluntary.
Shadowing a midwife may prove a little difficult, so you may need to look into other midwifery work experience opportunities. It is common for people to work with charities or medical centres, generally with people who have children with birth defects, people who have suffered miscarriages or supporting teenage parents.
The same can be said about university courses. Experience isn’t required, but it will help your application, especially at a university interview as you will stand apart from other candidates. Even speaking to a midwife about their job will prove useful.
The career prospects are very good for a midwife. You will start out at a relatively junior level, however, the role will expand and will allow you to branch out into different areas of midwifery, which can create the opportunity to become a specialist in certain areas.
Many midwives branch out to become a consultant midwife. This is someone who still retains the active job role of a midwife but will divide their time between working with patients and training new midwives.
Higher management roles are also available for midwives. This could be anything from being the head of midwifery services to being a general supervisor. Many midwives also consider the possibility of teaching, either with a local authority or at a university, though you would need a PGCE degree to do the latter.
It is also possible to work abroad, either paid or voluntary. Some organisations such as the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), the Médecins Sans Frontières or UNjobs have placements available for those looking, though you will need to meet the employment criteria for that country before you apply.