Midwife jobs(Also known as Midwife)
A midwife looks after the health of mother and baby during, before and after pregnancy. Midwives are an essential part of the birthing process, as a woman needs all the support she can get at what is possibly the most important and challenging moment in an entire family’s life. Midwives provide the practical, medical and human knowledge to deliver babies safely into the world. They also carry out check-ups on the mother and baby’s health before and after pregnancy. Midwifery can be split into 3 areas which are taken care of in 3 separate clinics:
- Antenatal: care of the unborn child still in the womb.
- Delivery: care of mother and baby during the actual birthing process.
- Postnatal: care after the baby has been born, in the early weeks of life.
SalarySalary for midwives on the NHS is tightly stratified by length of service and experience.
- Midwives on the NHS start on around £20,000 per annum depending on location.
- An experienced midwife can earn up to £50,000 per annum.
- Midwife consultants can earn in excess of £60,000 per annum.
ResponsibilitiesIn their day to day role, midwives would carry out the following tasks:
- Dispensing antenatal advice on eating and lifestyle.
- Performing antenatal check-ups.
- Explaining the process of giving birth, controlling breathing, contractions, warning signs etc.
- Checking on the position of the baby during childbirth.
- Administering pain relief to the mother where necessary.
- Liaising with the doctor over any developing complications.
- Performing minor surgery and inserting stitches afterwards.
- Delivering the baby.
- Checking on the health of mother and baby in the first few weeks after birth. Giving advice and checking on their routine.
QualificationsTo work as a midwife you need to study for a specialised degree in Midwifery, one that is approved by the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council). To gain entry to such a degree you would need a minimum of 5 GCSEs, usually including Science and English. A degree in midwifery is 50% practical experience, working under supervision and takes places in hospitals, clinics and the community. Midwifery degrees take either 3 or 4 years. The good news is that student Midwives are funded by a non-repayable means-tested bursary and tuition fees are normally paid for you.
SkillsWorking as a midwife requires a unique set of personal skills and attributes:
- Good mental and physical endurance.
- Empathetic, caring nature.
- Ability to inspire calm in difficult situations.
- Ability to work in a small team but also to be self-reliant when working alone.
- Superb communications skills.
- Ability to get on well with people from various backgrounds and walks of life.
Working ConditionsMidwives usually work in a clinical setting, be that within a hospital maternity ward, community birthing centre, or private clinic. Sometimes midwives may work in clients’ homes, where a home birth has been agreed upon. In extreme situations a midwife can be called to work wherever the birth is taking place. Hours conform to the NHS standard of 37.5 hours per week, usually on a shift basis. In the NHS midwifes are rotated between the three different areas of midwifery every six months or so and for each period they confine their activities to that particular setting. Prolonged labours taking in excess of 12 hours are common and while it may not be a single midwife with the same mother the entire time, the job is extremely demanding. Physical and emotional endurance are a prerequisite along with a calm and patient manner; midwives will be left feeling tired after a week’s work. The profession is very much a female dominated one. However, male midwives, although very rare, are becoming more common.
ExperienceA degree in midwifery is composed of 50% practical study so midwives gain all the experience they need while at university. To gain experience of working as a Midwife prior to this, you can volunteer to work as an assistant in a hospital clinic. Contact your local NHS trust’s voluntary work department for more information.
EmployersThe NHS is the single largest employer of midwives in the UK. After some years of experience in the NHS you may be able to find work in a private hospital or clinic.
Career ProgressionIt is very common for qualified nurses to move into midwifery. To this end there are special conversion courses that take just 18 months of study, rather than the 3 years direct access degrees. Experienced midwives may go on to be sisters in charge of a single ward. Consultant midwives are at the top end of the pay scale in the NHS and it is their job to consult with policy makers to refine the working practices of midwives across the NHS. They also spend a good portion of their times still working as midwives so that they never lose touch with the practical side of midwifery.
Charlotte Mills, 31, works as a midwife in a private clinic in London.