A midwife must have a calm, sympathetic disposition and the ability to communicate effectively and put people at ease.
Apprentice midwives give knowledge, care, and support to mothers and their babies during pregnancy, labour, and the early postnatal period. You will help women make their own decisions about treatment and services and provide health education and parenting advice until their care is transferred to a health visitor.
You are responsible for both the mother’s and the child’s health and will only refer to obstetricians if medical problems arise. Multidisciplinary teams work in hospitals and, increasingly, in community healthcare settings.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- advise pregnant women and check they are healthy
- run classes about pregnancy and parenting
- manage labour and deliver babies
- advise on ways to manage pain during labour
- give advice after the baby is born
- visit homes to check on parents and the baby.
- Salaries for newly qualified midwives are set at Band 5, which starts at £25,655.
- You can then progress to Band 6, which ranges from £32,306 to £39,027.
- Salaries at Band 7, where you’ll be working at a more senior level, are in the region of £40,057 to £45,839.
- One of the highest paid positions in nursing is as a nurse consultant where salaries start on Band 8b to 8c, which ranges from £54,764 to £75,874.
During working hours, unsocial hours are typical. An average working week lasts 37.5 hours, including day and night shifts, weekends, and bank holidays. Community and independent midwives are often on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you should anticipate being on an on-call rota at some point in your career.
You could work at a client’s home, at a health centre, at a GP practice or in an NHS or private hospital.
Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice midwife include:
- Level 6 Midwife – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship.
This qualification takes 48 months to complete and includes learning on the job and studying at an approved university.
On a midwifery apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- knowledge of medicine and neonatal care
- sensitivity and understanding
- knowledge of psychology
- customer service skills
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device.
Most midwives are employed by the NHS. They work in:
- midwifery-led maternity units and birthing centres
- the community – at GP surgeries, clinics, children’s centres and in women’s homes.
As a newly qualified midwife, you will get help from an experienced professional colleague. Throughout the first few months of professional practice, they will be accessible to provide advice and help.
You’ll need to maintain your Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration, which is valid throughout your career and renewed every three years. To do so, you must show that you met the NMC revalidation requirements within the time range specified.
The revalidation method ensures that your skills and knowledge are current and that you are practising safely and effectively.
Participatory learning for CPD must involve interaction with at least one other professional and may include attending conferences, seminars, or similar training courses and events. More information is available at NMC Revalidation.
Specialised courses such as enhanced midwifery practice, family planning, clinical teaching, and research will help you extend your position.
There are also opportunities for advanced study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels.
You become a consultant midwife, dividing your time between direct patient care and teaching and guiding practice reforms.
Alternatively, you might seek a position in higher management with the local supervisory body, such as the head of midwifery services or midwifery supervisor. You might also work in healthcare or academia, teaching or doing research.
Work in other countries is possible via organisations such as Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). However, midwives must be registered nurses in numerous countries to practise, so check this before applying.