Midwives provide care and support to Mums to be and their families while pregnant, throughout labour and during the period after a baby’s birth.
What is the role of a Midwife?
You’ll be the expert on childbirth and your responsibilities are likely to be diverse. You will:
- provide full antenatal care, including parenting classes, clinical examinations and screening
- identify high-risk pregnancies
- monitor women and support them during labour and the birthing process
- teach new and expectant mothers how to feed, care for and bathe their babies
You could be working with women from a variety of backgrounds and you will need to be confident enough to communicate with different people. Some women and their families might be homeless, socially excluded, have disabilities or be very young. Other clients may be from certain cultural or religious backgrounds.
All women will need you to understand the emotional, physical and psychological processes of pregnancy and birth. Sometimes pregnancies do not go to plan and you will need to offer support and advice on stillbirth, miscarriage, termination, neonatal death and neonatal abnormalities.
What qualifications and experience do I need?
To become a midwife you’ll need to train and study for an undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree or diploma. Entry requirements vary depending on where you’d like to study or work. However, they usually look for a minimum of:
- five GCSEs at grade 9-4/C or above - typically including English language or literature and a science subject
- and either two or three A-levels or equivalent qualifications such as GNVQ advanced level or NVQ level 3
Applicants should be able to demonstrate good interpersonal and communication skills, and be able to work well under pressure.
You'll need to be committed to learning and always keeping their skills and knowledge up to date. Once you have qualified as a midwife, there are a wide range of opportunities. You may want to undertake further training and become a health visitor or move into management, teaching or clinical research.
Pay and benefits
The banding for a midwife is currently a Band 6 (please refer to the latest Agenda for Change pay scales for salary details)
This is a registered practitioner role which requires active registration and revalidation with the Nursing and Midwife Council (NMC).
My Story: Philippa Whitehead
My name is Philippa Whitehead, I have worked at UHP for 3 years and I am a Midwife
How I got into this role
I had always known I wanted to work in a healthcare role, my mum was a nurse, and we cared for my dad for many years. From around the time I was picking my GCSE options I had encountered people who were quite judgemental about the fact that I suffer with Phenylketonuria, and always felt I was having to prove that I was ‘normal’. This motivated me to achieve as much as I could and I felt, as well, that a career in midwifery would also reassure parents of newly diagnosed PKU children that the condition does not limit your ability to achieve anything. In order to make my qualifications as desirable as possible, I opted to complete A-Levels in Human Biology, Psychology, Photography (Everyone needs a hobby!) and an AS in Sociology. I also opted to fast track a Health and Social Care A-Level in a 3rd year at College, completing both the AS and A2 alongside each other.
I was also conscious that I would require relevant work experience. Having been unable to secure experience in a hospital setting, I worked in many nursery and school settings as a way of demonstrating my ability to work with a wide variety of people. After a lot of hard work, and an extra year at college, I was successful in applying for my Midwifery degree at University!
My role at UHP
My day to day activities as a midwife vary depending on the area of the Maternity department I am working in. As part of the ‘Better Births Continuity of Care’ model my trust has implemented, I work within a small team of 8 midwives providing care for women throughout pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period. I have a set clinic day once a week in which I see my own caseload of antenatal women, ensuring that their pregnancy is progressing smoothly, and making appropriate referrals for specialist care as required. I provide support and reassurance to women and their families, and ensure that they feel involved with decision making regarding the care they receive. I regularly have shifts (usually 1 per week) that are “on call” for deliveries for women in my team both within the labour ward and homebirths.
I also work rostered shifts within the unit and on the Labour ward, the antenatal/postnatal ward and the Transitional Care ward.
On the antenatal/postnatal ward we provide care for women who are unwell during their pregnancy, and require monitoring, as well as care for women in the immediate period after delivering their baby, before they go home. This includes breastfeeding support and monitoring any health issues in mum and that may require a longer stay in hospital. Including Pre-Eclampsia in mums, as well as blood sugar monitoring in babies.
On the Transitional Care ward, I am involved in the care of babies that require more intensive care than can be provided on the regular postnatal ward. This includes babies who require antibiotics through a drip and babies who are born prematurely.
Whilst working on the labour ward, I am involved in promoting ‘normality’ during labour and delivery of high risk mum’s/babies, by working with other health professionals to ensure that women get the care that they need. I also act as an advocate for these women, ensuring that their wishes are met, and that they feel involved in their care and decision making. Labour ward working does not always include the obvious delivery of babies, but can in fact involve caring for very unwell mothers including those suffering significant bleeds during pregnancy, those who have severe pre-eclampsia, as well as supporting mother’s and families who have experienced a pregnancy loss.
The best bits and the challenges
My absolute favourite part of being a midwife is of course aiding women to deliver their babies, and watching the sheer joy on their faces when they meet their baby for the first time. However, I also love working within the community providing care to my caseload of women. I get to know these women, and ensure that all women feel welcomed to clinic each week, and ensure that their voices are heard if they have any concerns. I feel that by building up this rapport with women allows me to better support them and their families, and I hope make it easier for women to talk to me and discuss their concerns.
Midwifery does have its challenges. Supporting women through a pregnancy loss can be incredibly difficult, and requires you to give up a lot of yourself to support a family, but also sometimes just being comfortable with silence, and being there and providing whatever care and support they need at the time. That said, it is extremely rewarding to know that I could have made even a small difference to a completely tragic circumstance.
Life outside of work
Outside work I am a very creative person. I love knitting and crochet as well as cross stitch. I also love reading, and have enough books to fill a library I think! My newest hobby is gardening and I have truly developed a green thumb! There is nothing better than finishing a shift at work, and coming home and pottering around my garden for an hour!
It is also extremely important to me to make time for my friends and my family. Working as a midwife can be challenging, and it is so important to make time for family, and having their support for my vocation means I am able to maintain a never ending love for the career even after an extremely bad day.
My top tips to being successful
I am currently planning on starting a Master’s degree in advanced practice in Midwifery. I have already chosen a few modules, and I have ambitions to become a labour ward co-ordinator and maybe even a Matron or consultant midwife further down the line.
The best piece of advice I could give is to provide the care that you would want to receive yourself, or for someone in your family, and to always be compassionate and understanding even in difficult circumstances. Even the smallest thing can make the biggest difference in someone’s life.