A career as a midwife is rewarding and challenging. The work involved means that you will be supporting and helping women as they prepare to give birth. You’ll also be present and during labour and after the birth of the child.After the birth there is a period of time when mothers will be relying upon you for postnatal advice and support. Once this is complete , a health visitor takes over the monitoring of the new mother and child.
What’s it all about?
As a midwife, you have responsibility for the health and safety of both mother and child, and you will continue to bear that responsibility throughout the pregnancy.
A big part of what you do is helping with decision-making. There are a number of decisions that are made by a mother during pregnancy and the birth. Some of these decisions need expert advice and support. The midwife’s support and guidance is invaluable in this respect.
Your responsibilities will include:
- Monitoring the women you work with throughout pregnancy. This will require examination of the mother-to-be, and constant monitoring of the health of both mother and baby
- Identifying a pregnancy that you think is high-risk. This is a crucial part of the role and will involve you working closely with other medical professionals
- Parenting advice. This will happen before the mother has her child, and will focus on a number of different aspects of parenting, from nutrition to issues and questions around the birth itself. This is a vital aspect of the process, and involves the midwife giving calm, reassuring advice.
- Developing a full schedule of care that covers the first contact with the service, through to the birth and postnatal care
- Helping to supervise the mother during labour. You will administer the appropriate pain relief. It also involves the monitoring of the foetus throughout labour
- Full communication with other health professionals that are responsible for the support and guidance of the mother and baby
- Supporting the mother after the birth, with comprehensive guidance on feeding, bathing and other aspects of care
- Supporting and advising the mother in the event of a traumatic event such as miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, termination or neonatal abnormality
So how do you get there?
The programme lasts three years if you’re studying it full time. The course is demanding, you will spend about 50% of the time in an academic setting and the other half of the time on placement, where you will learn the practical aspects of being a midwife.
It is possible to study for midwifery on a part-time basis. This takes six years and is dependent on you working in a role that has some relevance to midwifery. If you are currently a nurse, then this can be counted against the time required for the programme. You can take a short course programme, which will reduce the full-time study period of three years to a shorter duration.
It should be noted that midwifery as a profession is very competitive and essentially oversubscribed. If you intend to enter the profession through the direct entry (3 years) route, then it is important to apply as early as you can. It can take some time to be accepted.
The NHS is the primary employer of midwives. A midwife can be employed in a local area team (known as LAT), which could work closely with a GP practice. Midwives are also employed in hospital trusts and foundation trusts.
You can also be employed through a clinical commissioning group, part of the team responsible for planning and implementing clinical care in the local area.
In addition, some private care groups also employ midwives as part of their care team.
Show me the money
If you are employed by the NHS you will automatically be placed on a pay scale. A newly-qualified midwife can expect a starting salary of around £23,000. The next ‘band’ of pay is band 6, which pushes pay up to around £28,000 to £36,000.
At band 7 you will be moving into senior roles within the profession, and you’ll see a corresponding salary increase. Salaries in this band range from around £33,000 to £43,000.
There is a band 8a for the highest positions in midwifery, and this band ranges from £42,000 to just under £50,000 a year.
Is it for me?
If you want to pursue a career in health, and have the significant responsibility of midwifery, it’s a rewarding career choice. It can be very demanding, and it also has very challenging moments. However it is well paid, and you are working on the ‘frontline’ of medical care. If the 3 years of training and the practical training is something you feel you can manage, and you want to work with families as they experience major milestones in life, it is something you can definitely consider.