In 2021, 39,664 midwives were practising in the United Kingdom. Becoming a midwife is a great career option that provides high employment rates, an excellent salary, and high job satisfaction. 

If you are considering becoming a midwife, there are several steps that you need to take. Do you want to learn more about becoming a midwife and what you can expect from this career? 

Keep reading this guide for everything you need to know about how to become a midwife from graduation to practise. 

What Does a Midwife Do? 

What does a midwife do? A midwife job description will vary depending on specialties, but it is a career that allows you to work closely with your clients and their families during their childbearing years. It allows you to work with patients during pregnancy, childbirth, and more.

This career allows you to engage in lifelong learning. This includes learning more about conditions that affect pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care of women and children. 

Because midwives deliver babies, they also need to be able to make decisions in an emergency or stressful situation. 

A midwife can work in private practice or a hospital or clinic setting. 

Not only do they supervise the birthing process in both hospital and non-hospital settings, but they also provide ongoing care throughout pregnancy. This includes prenatal care to help clients stay healthy during their pregnancy and to prevent complications. 

During labour and birth, a midwife tries to give as little intervention as possible when there are no complications. Because of this, many mothers who prefer holistic medicine will choose to work with a midwife. 

After delivery, a midwife will continue to counsel their patients on infant care. They will monitor the health of the new mum as well as the infant for at least six weeks. 

Types of Midwives

There are a few different types of midwives within the NHS, also known as the National Health Service, in the UK. They can be part of the team for antenatal support for your patients.

First, there are hospital midwives. These midwives are on a hospital's maternity team and will care for you in a hospital setting. This includes prenatal care during pregnancy, during labour and birth, and after a baby is born. 

The second type of midwife within the NHS system is a community midwife. These midwives provide care in general practices, which can be in your home or at other health centres. 

There are also a few types of midwives outside of the NHS system. 

The most common is an independent midwife. These midwives work with expecting mothers who are planning on having a home birth.

In other cases, expecting mothers may need a specialist midwife. These midwives perform specialist care if a mother has additional needs during pregnancy. This includes mothers having multiple babies, teen pregnancy, and even if the expecting mother has pre-existing health conditions like diabetes. 

Education Requirements of a Midwife

There are many education requirements that you must meet to become a midwife. First, you need to complete your general secondary education. These are known as GCSE courses and include courses in English, mathematics, science, and more. 

You may need to take some additional prerequisite classes in science or health to be eligible to pursue studies in midwifery. After completing these general courses, you can enrol at a university to get a bachelor's degree or to complete an apprenticeship. 

If you get a bachelor's degree, you can typically find a university that offers a degree in midwifery. To make sure you get the best education, you must find a degree that is approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. 

Typically, you can expect your midwifery degree to take three years to complete. In these courses, you will learn more about prenatal and postnatal care, childbearing, public health, and more. 

Midwifery is also a profession that requires hands-on learning, so you will also have to take many skills-based courses to build your experience in these skills. 

If you already have a degree in the medical field, there are other ways that you can become a midwife. For example, registered nurses can complete a conversion course to become a midwife. This takes less time than a traditional midwifery degree, as you will already have experience working in the medical field. 

You can typically expect a conversion course to take between a year and a half and two years. 

Complete a Midwifery Apprenticeship

If you do not want to pursue a bachelor's degree, there are other ways that you can become a midwife in the United Kingdom. One of the most common approaches is to finish an apprenticeship in midwifery. 

This apprenticeship is the equivalent of getting an undergraduate degree, so it is in no way a shortcut to becoming a midwife

When you choose to do a midwifery apprenticeship, you will study midwifery from a licensed midwife or in some cases an obstetrical practitioner. 

This will allow you to gain experience in the midwifery practice while you get your education. 

Midwife Mentorship

Before becoming a registered midwife, you may also need to prepare for different mentors on different placements. While you may get a single mentorship, you may also work with other people in different rotations. 

This can help you learn more about each part of midwifery. 

When you are looking for a midwife mentorship, you should prioritise finding a mentor that is respectful and open. This will allow you to create a space for professional development that allows you to feel safe and that you belong. 

Having a great mentor can greatly improve your midwifery education and can help you prepare for practising in the real field. A reliable mentor will also spend enough time with you to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. 

This will allow them to help you improve and become the best version of yourself in your new career. 

Register as a Midwife

Once you have completed all your education requirements and qualifications to become a midwife, you can register as a midwife with the Nursing and Midwifery council. 

This process includes a background check and proof that you have completed the necessary requirements. 

You will need to renew this registration every three years with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. This will prove that you have kept your skill up-to-date, have completed enough professional development, and have a certain amount of practice hours. 

To renew your registration, you will need several hundred practice hours with direct patient care and other midwifery responsibilities. You will also need at least 50 hours of continued professional development and participatory learning. 

When you are a registered midwife, you can begin practising in whichever part of the field you have determined to be the best option for you. 

Choose a Speciality

Finally, you can choose a speciality after you are registered as a midwife. There are many different fields that you can specialise in as a midwife. 

For example, some people prefer to provide neonatal care, ultrasounds, or even lactation and breastfeeding services. Typically, you can find a speciality for anything that interests you when it comes to midwifery. 

Even if you don't want to practise midwifery by delivering babies, you can find midwifery opportunities in research and education. While these may require more training and education, it allows you to do what you love when you are a midwife!

Start Practising

Once you have completed the steps necessary to become a midwife, you can start practising in the field. 

If you don't already have a job lined up after you graduated with your midwifery degree, you can look for job postings. There are many different settings that you can work in as a midwife and you can switch from one setting to another over time. 

You also may need to start out practising in a general midwife role before you begin a specialist role for midwifery. No matter where you start practising, the career prospects for midwife jobs are great!

Thinking of Becoming a Midwife? 

Becoming a midwife in the UK is a great career opportunity. It allows you to provide support and care to families during pregnancy and birth and you're able to work in private practice or in a hospital.

Learning about the education requirement to become a midwife will make it easier to start the process! Do you want more information on the question, "how do you become a midwife?" Randstad can help!

We are an employment agency and can help you find midwife positions. Check out our applications for midwifery roles and other career resources.