If you’re considering training as a midwife, you likely have a passion for supporting women through pregnancy and childbirth. But what exactly does the job entail and what can you expect from midwifery training and practice? This guide will walk through key aspects of the career so you can decide if it’s the right fit for you.
The Role of a Midwife
Midwives provide care and support to women during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the early postpartum period. This includes conducting exams and tests, monitoring the health of mother and baby, providing information and reassurance, performing or assisting with the delivery, addressing any emergencies that arise, and helping establish breastfeeding. It’s an immensely rewarding role that allows you to develop close relationships and make a hugely positive impact as you help bring new life into the world.
Education and Training
Becoming a midwife requires extensive training. You must first complete a 3-year undergraduate degree in either midwifery or a related field like nursing. This provides the initial foundation covering anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, psychology, and more.
You will also be placed for practical training during this degree, allowing you to gain direct experience in maternity care settings under supervision. This totals around 100 days of placement hours during your studies.
Upon graduation, you must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to practice legally as a midwife. There are also ongoing training requirements to stay up to date on best practices throughout your career.
As a midwife, your days will vary greatly depending on your exact role and whether you work in a hospital, birthing center, or GP’s office/community setting. However, core responsibilities include:
- Providing full antenatal care, including regular health/development checks, offering lifestyle advice, identifying and monitoring risks, and referring for medical review if complications arise.
- Developing comprehensive personalized care plans covering preferences for labor, pain management, delivery approach, and more.
- Conducting initial assessments of pregnant women arriving to give birth, making judgment calls on progress, and addressing any emergencies.
- Closely monitoring and examining women throughout labor, administering pain relief or interventions, and escalating to doctors as required.
- Delivering babies and providing any needed guidance or support to mothers for natural birthing.
- Identifying and managing any post-delivery complications for the mother or baby
- Supporting new mothers through the immediate postnatal period including assistance with establishing successful breastfeeding.
- Providing home visits and ongoing care after the mother leaves the hospital.
In a typical shift as a hospital midwife, you may see 4-5 women giving birth or needing examinations and support. Outside hospitals, you’ll primarily provide longer appointments and conduct home visits for more personalized care.
Throughout all of this, you must wear appropriate PPE for the safety of yourself and your patients. Excellent communication skills are also hugely important for providing reassurance during intense, stressful times. Patience and empathy will carry you far as a midwife.
The job requires passion and dedication with challenging moments balanced by the utter joy of helping bring life into the world. But for the right person, becoming a midwife offers a richly fulfilling vocation as you support women through such a uniquely profound experience.