Last updated: 26 April 2012
Midwifery is a highly skilled profession requiring midwives to provide care during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period to the mother, baby, partner and their families for a period of up to 10 days and longer if the midwife feels it is appropriate.
- Midwives are personally responsible for the health of both mother and baby, only referring to obstetricians if there are medical complications, but are obliged by law to have a named supervisor of midwives to ensure safe practice. They work in multidisciplinary teams in both hospital and, increasingly, community healthcare settings.
- Counselling, listening and general communication skills are obviously essential. Many mothers, especially new ones will need advice and support. Aside from the practical caring skills you also have to be aware of the social and cultural context in which childbirth takes place.
- A midwife has a range of responsibilities ranging from diagnosing, monitoring and examining women during pregnancy through to supervising and assisting mothers in labour, monitoring the condition of the baby and using knowledge of drugs and pain management. Following delivery of the baby the midwife gives support and advice on the daily care of the baby, including breast feeding, bathing and making up feeds. This extends to providing advice and guidance on a safe and timely transfer home and liaising with agencies and other health and social care professionals to ensure continuity of care.
- The three or four-year degree programme is open to graduates and Diplomates from all degree and HND courses, but life sciences may be preferred. Registered nurses can do a 12-18 month shortened course. Unlike nursing, there are no shortened graduate courses in midwifery for graduates in other disciplines.
Entry to midwifery training without a degree or HND is also possible. Applicants must have a minimum of five GCSEs (or equivalent) and at least two A-levels (or equivalent) for degree programmes. Check individual entry requirements with course providers. The Nursing and Midwifery Council sets minimum requirements in literacy and numeracy.Most Universities in the East of England Region offer a variety of midwifery courses which is a combination of both academic study and practical supervised experience in the clinical setting.
The following link to the Royal College of Midwives may be of use.