Midwives provide care and support to women and their families while pregnant, throughout labour and during the period after a baby’s birth.
This page has information on being a midwife and links to further information.
You’ll mainly deal with pregnant women requiring professional support and advice. You are likely to be the lead health professional and contact for a woman, providing evidence-based information and helping her make informed choices about the options and services available throughout her pregnancy.
You’ll be the expert on childbirth and your responsibilities are likely to be diverse. You’ll provide:
- 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.
If you are working as a community midwife, you are likely to develop good professional relationships with your families, which can make counselling easier at difficult times.
You’ll often work on a rota and be on-call to provide 24-hour care at the woman’s home as well as in hospital.
"Experiencing the birth of a baby as part of your day job is incredible."
Eleri Bates, Midiwfe at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust
Where will I work?
Midwifery services are increasingly moving from hospitals to the community, so where you work could reflect this.
Antenatal care in the community is provided in women’s homes, local clinics, children’s centres and GP surgeries. It can also be provided in hospitals where you may work in triage and assessment areas, high and low risk labour, postnatal wards and neonatal units. Care during labour is provided in a mother’s home, as well as midwifery led maternity units.
How to become a midwife
To become a midwife you’ll need to train and study for an undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree or diploma, or secure a place on a midwifery degree apprenticeship. Entry requirements vary depending on where you’d like to study or work. You can find full-time midwifery courses using our Course Finder tool. You can search for apprenticeship vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and the Find an apprenticeship website.
Want to learn more?
- Find out more about the entry and training requirements for midwifery
- Find out about the personal characteristics and skills needed for midwifery
- Find out about the training and development opportunities in midwifery
Pay and working conditions
Expand / collapseMost jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. This pay system covers all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers. Midwives employed directly by the NHS will usually start on AfC band 5 and work standard hours of 37.5 per week. There are opportunities to progress to positions at bands 6, 7 (eg as a team manager) and to midwife consultant at bands 8b-8c. Community midwives could be employed by organisations providing services to the NHS such as community interest companies who do not have agreed national pay scales. Terms and conditions can vary for these employers.
Where the role can lead
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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.
Job market and vacancies
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There are more than 21,000 midwives employed by the NHS. There is expected to be continued growth as the number of babies being born continue to rise. In 2015, over 2600 midwifery training places are available at universities, an increase on 2014.
Most employers will advertise their job vacancies on NHS Jobs. Some advertise on their own websites and in the nursing press. You can find a list of NHS employers at NHS Choices and local authority employers on the Government website.
If you're applying for a role in the NHS or an employer offering NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the values of the NHS Constitution apply in your everyday work.
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