Midwife Job description
Midwives are the lead health care professionals in pregnancy, with their main role being to provide support, and co-ordinate care, for women under their provision.
Midwives assist women antenatally, postnatally and through labour by providing support and advice, and helping women to make informed decisions about their care.
They provide women with options regarding the labour process, and tailor support uniquely to every woman.
Another role of the midwife is education. Midwives educate new mums and their families how to care for their baby, including parentcraft workshops, and antenatal classes, and advise on preventative measures so not to adversely affect the health of the mother or their newborn.
In the early stages of pregnancy and throughout, midwives need to recognise and detect any complications, and provide support with areas such as miscarriages, abnormalities, and ectopic pregnancies. They should also ensure that women with complex health needs receive appropriate and additional care from a multi-disciplinary team, including maternity support workers, perinatal mental health support and consultants.
Although midwives have historically been based in hospitals, many now have a more involved role in the community, working at GP surgeries, visiting patient’s homes and providing workshops at community hubs and children’s centres.
Being able to deal with emotionally charged situations
Working under pressure and remaining calm
Communicating with people from diverse backgrounds, and working with diverse groups, such as the homeless, disabled, vulnerable and teenagers.
Understanding the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of pregnancy and birth.
To be able to show resilience after difficult situations
To have a caring, patient and sensitive attitude
High observational skills and attention to detail
Good listening skills
Problem solving abilities
To be able to clearly convey advice and information
The ability to react quickly to emergency situations
To be able to treat everyone with dignity and equality
Physical fitness and stamina
There are three routes to qualify as a Midwife:
This route involves applying for a Degree in Midwifery, on a course that is approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). These degrees are usually a combination of study and clinical practice. As courses are highly competitive, it is preferable to have high grades at A-level or equivalent, with a scientific subject/module. Personal statements should also demonstrate an appreciation and understanding of the role of a midwife. Although not necessary, it is beneficial for applicants to have some experience, whether personal or voluntary, in a care role.
As a qualified nurse
If already qualified as a nurse, it is possible to study an 18-month post-registration course to gain qualification as a Midwife, or a year
18-month post-registration shortened course to qualify as a Midwife, or study for an MSc in Midwifery Studies which takes a year to complete.
As working healthcare professionals or nurses
Other qualified healthcare professions and some nurses can choose to train as a Midwife whilst in their current role, through a part-time course over a 5-6-year duration.
Once qualified as a Midwife, individuals should register with the NMC, and notify the local supervising authority with the intention to practice. To maintain registration with the NMC, it is essential to attend CPD courses and keep a log of attendance so to be able to re-validate registration with the NMC every 3 years.
There are many ways in which a midwife can progress or diversify. As natural progressions, midwives may increase their level of responsibility and management in a role of Team Manager, which could then provide the opportunity to apply for prominent roles such as Midwifery Lead. This may be within the NHS, or working in a private maternity unit.
Midwives also have the option to specialise, in areas such as Homebirths or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing. Midwives can apply directly as Neonatal nurses, and will undergo relevant training and professional development.
As a progression from a hands-on role, midwives can choose to follow an academic role in education and research, and can gain further qualifications through NHS funded training. Such roles may include lecturing, working in a research laboratory, or being part of a research team and publishing material for academic journals.
Pros and cons
A rewarding and fulfilling career by assisting women in the process of giving birth to a new life
Flexibility and scope in the role, and choice of places to work
Being in a privileged position
Unpredictable, unsociable and long working hours
Emotionally charged and stressful situations
Position of high responsibility
When working in the NHS, a newly qualified Midwife can expect to earn a salary in the region of £22,000. With progression to supervisor level, this can significantly increase to salaries in the region of £41,000, and rise again further at consultant level up to a salary of £67,000. These salaries can vary when working for private practices.
The Nursing and Midwife Council –
The Royal College of Midwives –
Student Midwife information pages –
The Midwives Information and Resource Service: a charity providing materials to assist midwife career development –
The Association of Radical Midwives –
The British Journal of Midwifery –