Becoming a Midwife

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There are few more rewarding and satisfying roles in the medical profession than that of the midwife. The role of the midwife is varied, but centres on preparing women for the delivery of a child. Midwives are present during the very earliest stages of pregnancy, right up to the final stages of childbirth and beyond. This means they often form quite close relationships with new mothers. Furthermore, the role of the midwife comes with plenty of responsibilities, and midwifery requires a certain type of person that can encompass professionalism, compassion, dedication, empathy, support and caring as part of their daily work.

Road to midwifery

In the UK there are approximately 35,000 working midwifes, but as more and more babies are born each year, there is always a perennial shortage of midwives. It takes many years to train to become a midwife and the role is not suitable for everyone. While it has its plenty of rewards and job satisfaction, midwifery also comes with its challenges. Not all births are successful, and midwives have often to work with mothers who are undergoing difficult and painful experiences. It can be a demanding job, and midwives need certain personal character traits in order to cope with the day-to-day work that the job entails.

For those that believe they have what it takes to be a midwife, and are sure they are 100 per cent committed to the profession, the road to midwifery starts with a professional degree. Usually, gaining places on such degree programmes is easier than other areas of the medical sector such as medical school placements for doctors, but the work is just as hard. Some midwives come into the profession from other areas of the health sector, but all midwives are expected to achieve the necessary education, and once a degree is completed, all newly qualified midwives have to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) before being allowed to practice.

The delivery room in Tanzania

Midwifery as a career

Once a midwifery qualification is attained, there are wide variety of options available to midwives. Midwives can work in a range of settings, from hospital midwifery where they help deliver babies and provide support for mothers to be, or out working in the community, helping prepare women for motherhood and assisting new mothers in the first stages of their infant’s lives. Some midwives choose to work in one particular area of the field, such as in delivery suites, where they assist mothers in the birth of their children, while other midwives choose to gain experience in all aspects of the field.

As midwives become more experienced, they have the option to move into more senior positions, such as becoming a team manager, where they can take on the responsibility of managing other staff members. Furthermore, as with other areas of the health service, midwives can specialise in particular areas of prenatal or perinatal care, and go on to study further qualifications. Some midwives take part in research programmes or go on to teach at midwifery schools, helping to train future midwives.

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