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  • 21 February 2011
  • 7 min read

How to change your career and become a midwife

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If you're a good communicator and a caring person, this could be the career change for you.

Giving a woman guidance throughout her pregnancy and providing care for her and her family, to delivering the baby itself. Midwifery is a beautiful career to get into.

Have you reached a point in your current career where you no longer get the satisfaction or progression you are looking for?

A career in midwifery could give you endless fulfilment, a structured career path in the healthcare sector, and the chance to work full time or part time as you choose. There will always be a demand for qualified midwives in both the public and private sectors, so it’s likely you will be able to find Midwife Jobs in your area.

A midwife’s job is to support women through the process of bringing new life into the world. Midwives are advocates for the care of both mother and baby, and the involvement of each woman in planning her pregnancy and birth.

The role of the midwife is more centred around women’s health and the role of the woman in bringing the baby into the world, and there is a distinction between the role of the midwife and a children’s nurse. If you are looking for a career working with children, then being a midwife probably isn’t for you, but you could consider becoming a Paediatric Nurse instead.

A midwife will be be involved with the pregnancy from start to finish by giving advice throughout, antenatal and postnatal care and of course, will be present during the delivery.

A woman should be in the care of a midwife from the moment she becomes pregnant until the end of the post-natal period; no less than 10 days after the baby is born and as long as the midwife deems necessary.

Helping to welcome a new life into the world is such a rewarding part of midwifery.

Midwife Jobs in the UK and Abroad

There is a shortage of qualified midwives in the UK and abroad, so even with the current budgetary situation in this country, there is still a need to recruit both experienced and newly qualified midwives.

A newly qualified midwife working for the NHS will often start at the first pay point in band 5, but salaries in the private sector vary and there is no set starting salary. You can check current pay bandings and rates in our NHS salary calculator.

Traditionally a midwife working in the private sector would be paid more than in the NHS, but that is not always the case now.

If you are thinking of moving abroad, there are plenty of recruitment agencies that now offer to help with the process of emigrating, finding a job and registering with the correct organisation in order to practice. There are often midwife jobs advertised in New Zealand, Australia and the Middle East, but it’s common that these jobs require a minimum of 2 years post registration experience, sometimes more, depending on the level of the job.

If you’re thinking of staying the UK when you qualify, there are plenty of midwife jobs advertised here as well. A midwife job can be either permanent, temporary or on the NHS bank, and either full or part time. Many midwives choose to work part time to fit in family or other commitments.

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What skills does a Midwife need?

A midwife needs a varied range of skills, including:

The ability to offer objective counsel and advice in a clear and simple way,

• To take overall responsibility for the care of the pregnant woman,

• The initiative to work alone, and as a part of the wider healthcare team where necessary,

• An understanding of the different approaches to childbirth held by different cultures - for example, in Chinese tradition it used to be common that the mother and baby would be isolated for a month after the birth in order for the bond between mother and child to become fully established,

• Not hold any personal views about the age, circumstances or religious beliefs of a woman in their care,

• Ensure the health and wellbeing of both mother and child are at the forefront of every decision,

• Be objective at all times and react quickly when required to do so,

• Have a calm approach to a pressurised situation,

• The ability to take on individual responsibility.

How do I become a Midwife?

Midwifery is a very competitive course and places are highly sought after at every intake. That being said, if it’s the career you’ve decided you want to pursue then there is no reason that with a strong application you shouldn’t be selected for interview.

Any evidence that helps to demonstrate your commitment to this career path will be useful. For example, you could ask to shadow a midwife in your local area to get a more detailed picture of the day to day role.

You could also approach a family member who is currently, or was recently, in the care of a midwife and ask lots of questions about the experience.

The more knowledge you can demonstrate in your personal statement, the better your application will be. Any volunteering or work experience in a caring environment, or anytime you’ve acted as a counsellor when someone wanted to talk through their problems with you will be helpful.

Communication skills as a whole, including giving clear instructions and listening are particularly valuable so if you can give evidence of these that will really enhance your application.

For full details on how to write a personal statement, see our article. It’s focused towards nursing but the principles are the same.

Play video: Louisa talks about what she wishes she knew before becoming a student midwife.

All an admissions officer is looking for in your application is that you’re completely committed to becoming a midwife then pursuing the career after you qualify, and that they aren’t giving away a place to someone who won’t take it seriously.

Becoming a midwife involves a great deal of hard work, research and planning.

It’s not easy to work out how you can afford to study, but with time and a little investigative work you can find out what funding you’re entitled to, and then work out a budget for your time at midwifery university.

Planning will continue throughout your studies as you will need to be aware of when assignments are due, where and when you have be at your placement and what days you have lectures. You will need a detailed plan of your time to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Working as a midwife also involves a great deal of organisation and flexibility as you will often be working with more than one woman at a time, as well as attending the birth whenever that occurs.

Read our blog posts how to qualify for and find a job as a midwife  and how to get a place on a midwifery course at university for more information on qualifications.

It’s a highly rewarding career, and one many people train for as mature students once they’ve had some life experience, or after they’ve had a family of their own. 

One of our influencers, Louisa, created a video for us on her favourite parts of being a student midwife. It's worth a watch as it highlights how it's one of the most rewarding careers to get into - click the link above to see it!

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About the author

I believe people should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career.

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