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Midwives deliver babies and provide antenatal and postnatal advice, care and support to women, their babies, their partners and families.

Midwives need the ability to deal with emotionally charged situations as part of their everyday work.

What does a midwife do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Midwives support women and their families through pregnancy and labour and in the time immediately after birth. They work in a range of settings, including hospitals, midwifery-led maternity units and expectant mothers' homes, and are part of a team of professional and medical staff that includes doctors, social workers, neonatal nurses and health visitors. They may be assisted by maternity support workers and be responsible for supervising them.

Typical duties include:

  • examining and monitoring pregnant women
  • assessing care requirements and writing care plans
  • undertaking antenatal care in hospitals, homes and GP practices
  • carrying out screening tests
  • providing information, emotional support and reassurance to women and their partners
  • taking patient samples, pulses, temperatures and blood pressures
  • caring for and assisting women in labour
  • monitoring and administering medication, injections and intravenous infusions during labour
  • monitoring the foetus during labour
  • advising about and supporting parents in the daily care of their newborn babies
  • helping parents to cope with miscarriage, termination, stillbirth and neonatal death
  • writing records
  • tutoring student midwives
  • identifying high-risk pregnancies

Midwives may work on a rota and be on call to provide care on a 24-hour basis.

Typical employers of midwives

  • National Health Service (NHS)
  • GP practices
  • Private hospitals
  • The armed forces
  • Independent practices

Vacancies appear online, in newspapers, on the NHS jobs website and in publications such as Nursing Times and Nursing Standard.

Qualifications and training required

You can only become a midwife with an approved midwifery degree that leads to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). You apply for full-time midwifery degree courses through UCAS and are likely to need at least two (usually three) A levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications. Preferred subjects may include biology or a social science. Courses last for three years and include a mix of university study and practical experience.

Candidates who are already registered as adult nurses can qualify as midwives through an 18-month short programme.

Key skills for midwives

  • Ability to deal with emotionally charged situations
  • Excellent teamworking skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Strong observational skills
  • An interest in the process of pregnancy and birth
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Able to work with people from different backgrounds
  • Able to follow instructions and procedures
  • Caring and patient

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