In the UK around 300,000 babies are born via midwife lead deliveries each year. This is even though there is a shortage of 2,500 midwives across the NHS.
Midwives, in addition to delivering the nations babies, carry out several duties vital to the welfare of both mother and baby.
Within a community setting, they help the new family navigate the first few weeks of the baby’s life. Making sure the baby is healthy and mum is recovering well. They also serve as a 24-hour helpline, answering any and all questions the new parents may have.
Midwives are invaluable to the hundreds of thousands of families they help every single year.
Of course, the role isn’t without challenges and sacrifices, but every day is an opportunity to literally change lives.
In order to become qualified you will need a degree in midwifery approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council.
However, if you don’t have the minimum qualifications needed to get in, becoming a midwife may feel like an impossible dream. The good news is you have options.
A Day in the Life
While the core role of a midwife is to deliver babies, a midwife’s job has a lot more to it than that.
Within a hospital setting a midwife isn’t just responsible for the birth but the after care too. Depending on the size of the ward will determine how many mothers and babies you will have to care for.
But care is a broad church. In addition to monitoring the health and recovery of the mother and how well the baby is feeding, you also need to monitor the first dirty nappies. Then there’s blood tests, neonatal reviews and administering medication.
And there are expectant mothers waiting in the wings so the pace can be demanding.
Obviously if the mother has opted for a home birth then you will need to be able to do much of that role in someone’s home which – although a change of scenery – brings its own challenges. Especially if complications arise.
Community midwives, on the other hand provide care in GP practices, children’s centres or in the mother’s home. In this role you will support the mother leading up to the birth and afterwards up until the health visitor takes over.
In this role you will be monitoring the mother’s progress and making any referrals that are needed in order to keep both mother and baby safe and well.
You will also need to identify if the expectant parents need any parenting education.
By training to be a midwife you have the option of pivoting your role into neonatal care. In this role you will be responsible for looking after premature babies. Although many are born without complications, others can develop specific problems – such as respiratory issues. These need on going care and attention.
As a neonatal nurse you will also be tasked with supporting the family through what is an incredibly anxious time.
What Qualifications do I need?
Before you commit to anything, you need to make sure you meet the requirements to enrol on a midwifery degree.
Below is the boiler plate list of minimum requirements in order to make it on to a midwifery degree course. While some universities may waive the Maths GCSE, these are the overwhelming minority. Instead they will insist on something like a minimum of 2 years’ experience in a health care setting instead.
- Demonstrate evidence of literacy and numeracy
- Complete a health questionnaire and identify any special needs related to a disability
- Declare any past criminal convictions
- Allow the university to check whether you have a police record. You will not automatically be barred if you have a criminal conviction or caution. The university will consider the circumstances and will treat any information in the strictest of confidence.
- Required qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales include:
- Five GCSEs including English, maths and a science (usually biology or human biology)
- Two A-levels or equivalent.
- In Scotland, one of the following is required:
- 3-5 SQA Highers plus 2 standard grades/National 5’s – this should include English and maths
- Completion of a relevant HNC/HND including English plus maths at Standard Grade/National 5 level
- Completion of an appropriate Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP). Access to Nursing and SWAP programmes have been specifically developed for adults who have no or few qualifications and have been out of education for some time.
Assuming all you’re missing is the A Levels then you are in good shape to progress towards your new career. Otherwise you may need to take some extra courses in order to get yourself to where you need to be.
One option is to simply take the A Levels you currently lack. Many online education providers now offer A Levels giving you a viable alternative to attending your local college.
The course material is tailored to a more mature audience, so you feel like the course is at your level. Not a 16-year old’s.
You will need at least 2 A Levels, one of which must be a science in order to qualify for a midwifery degree. Although in the interests of giving you the best start, biology is the obvious choice.
Chemistry and a social science such as psychology or sociology are good complementary qualifications too.
Distance learning will allow you to study the courses at a pace that works for you, although many students find they can complete an A Level inside of a year.
Depending on the number you take you should be qualified inside of 2 years, time and circumstances permitting.
Access to HE Diploma
The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a qualification which prepares students specifically for study as an undergraduate level.
The content of the diploma focuses specifically around the degree you want to study. In this case midwifery. This provides you with the foundation you need to build your knowledge and skills.
You will cover cell biology, human nutrition, the digestive system, growth and development, the human musculo-skeletal system and approaches to health.
Other areas of study include human disease and prevention, the brain and the nervous system.
You will also get an introduction to psychology, social factors in health care, inequalities in health and illness, poverty and health and equality and diversity within health care.
The course also covers the vital subject of the role of the midwife in intrapartum care and postnatal care.
By the time you have completed the course you will be ready to take the next step on your journey to becoming a midwife.
It’s worth noting that while most universities accept Access to HE diplomas, a tiny minority don’t. If you choose to go down the Access to HE Diploma route, check with your preferred university before you enrol.
Once you’ve decided on your pathway to higher education, all you need to do is enrol.
learndirect is one of the UKs leading distance learning providers. Get in touch with our sales team or sign up today online to enrol on the course that’s right for you. There are flexible payment terms available to help you spread the cost.
You will also have access to a dedicated tutor who will help you through the process. Check out our blog for useful tips on how to get the most out of your study experience.
Click below to sign up to our Access to Higher Education Diploma (Midwifery), to give you the foundation you need to go on to achieve at university.