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Midwifery in the UK: Turn Your Passion for Babies Into a Career

Midwifery in the UK

If you clicked on the link to this article, chances are you love babies. And judging by statistics, most women in the UK agree with you.

In 2015, 664,399 babies were born in England, a rise of 2,903 births from 2014. Births in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland also saw increases.

A trend of women over 40 having children is stressing the UK’s health infrastructure. We’re reaching the limit of what our antenatal services can handle.

While the number of midwives working for NHS has risen, 98 percent of these people are workers over 50 years of age who are advancing their career. Young people aren’t signing up to become midwives, current midwives are just aging.

It’s becoming a real problem our country needs to address.

Estimates put our midwife shortage somewhere between 2,500 and 3,500 healthcare workers, with Brexit only making these numbers worse.

The Royal College of Midwives found that 1,192 full-time NHS midwives are from other EU countries. London alone sees 16 percent of its midwife staff originate from outside our borders.

If foreigners’ rights to work in the UK aren’t secured, the RCM estimates the midwife shortage could reach 5000 healthcare professionals.

There are no two ways about it, the UK needs more midwives. Nurses or young people interested in midwifery in the UK can turn their passions into a career that benefits us all.

What Makes A Midwife?

Midwives are specialists in both pre and post birth care. They’re an all-encompassing source of knowledge on women’s reproductive health.

The question is often asked if midwives are nurses. They are nurses in a sense, but they specialize in their own field of medicine.

Midwifery is a combination of reproductive health, basic biology, working hospital knowledge, and psychological counseling. They not only deal with medical issues but emotional concerns as well.

It’s not an easy job, there’s no denying it.

You’re expected to keep patients calm, relaxed, and focused on a successful birth, while at the same time monitoring their vital signs and facilitating any medical procedures. You won’t personally administer an epidural, but expect to take equal responsible for the anesthesiologist’s actions.

Take into account the high stress when you’re looking into this career.

Not every birth will go smoothly. You might face tragic circumstances, and it’s up to you to become an unending source of empathy.

Pre and post pregnancy problems can also come your way. Your duties will include examining women to recognize pre-delivery complications and monitoring newborns for post-birth issues.

Explaining to a mother the complication their child faces is one of the most emotionally charged situations you’ll ever deal with.

Dianne from the Association of Radical Midwives shared her emotional experiences for future midwives.

“I also like looking after women who are suffering a pregnancy loss. This seems a strange thing to enjoy, and it is always distressingly sad, but the way you act with these women and the support you give them will remain with them forever.”

That’s what makes this career so rewarding.

The Path to Midwifery in the UK

Midwives come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They’re men and women, old and young, who have chosen to dedicate their life to the miracle of birth.

The two paths to becoming a midwife both end with school. Where they begin, however, is something different.

People interested in walking the first path can sign up for a direct entry program at a number of universities. They’re generally three-year programs that offer in-class and on-site instruction centered specifically on becoming a midwife. These programs also cover basic biology and hospital knowledge.

Robyn, another member of the Association of Radical Midwives, describes her training as such.

“Before we can progress to F grade we have to have competencies in IV admin, epidural top-ups and suturing. The hospital I work in runs in-house training on these topics and then there is a number that you have to watch, and then be supervised.”

The process is very involved and aims to prepare you for midwifery in the UK as thoroughly as possible.

The other path takes you through nursing school, and then an 18-month program at university. Healthcare professionals on this path must already be a certified nurse, and then use the 18 months to learn techniques specific to midwives.

When comparing the two routes, direct entry programs sometimes attract a certain stigma. We’re here to dispel this entirely.

Classes in a direct entry program teach the same basic principles as those taught in nursing school. The Nursing and Midwifery Council certification is required for all midwives and holds direct entry midwives to the same standard of knowledge as their nursing trained counterparts.

Where You’ll Practice

It’s a common perception that a midwife’s destiny is to work for the NHS, but this isn’t always the case. As a midwife, you can also find work in the community, at a private practice, or through in-home care.

Community antenatal care is needed wherever children are present. Women’s homes, local clinics, and child centers all have a need for midwives. Your job in the community is to educate and inform women on pregnancy, the delivery process, and how to care for a child after delivery.

Community midwives can even make house calls to coach new mothers through the few weeks of child care.

Private practice and at-home care midwives are similar to community midwives in that they work independently of NHS. If you choose this path you’ll work with new mothers to provide extra antenatal care, both at the hospital and after delivery.

At home-midwives also specialize in, you guessed it, at-home delivery techniques. These include how to handle emergency situations, and when it’s time to seek a doctor.

Salaries will vary across the profession, so it’s best to check which career path suits you.

Taking your passion for babies and applying it to midwifery in the UK is a very noble career path. The perpetuation of our society quite literally relies on the profession.

If being a midwife is something you’re interested, check out our job search page. Our goal is to help our nation’s future health care professionals find the jobs they need.

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