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What is the Role of a Midwife in the UK?

21st June 21

The role of the midwife is to provide new or soon-to-be mothers and their families with advice, care and support, from pre-conception up to 28 days after birth. And with the variety of birthing preferences and facilities providing midwifery assistance, this can require you to work in various settings. Including hospitals and homes out in the community.

From health promotion to clinical decision making, as a midwife, you will often be the lead health professional during visits. Being the main point of contact for new mothers and providing them with evidence-based information. As well as helping them make informed choices about the options and services available throughout their pregnancy.

As a midwife, you would be part of a multi-disciplinary team that supports new mothers in this time. A lot of midwives will also choose to consolidate their training and specialise in one specific area of midwifery care.

Your sole focus as a midwife is providing a duty of care to those on the journey of motherhood. Helping them as they adjust from not having a baby to then having a baby. Which is a huge transition for any new mother to make.

If you are considering a role in midwifery, read on below to gain further insight into the role of a midwife.

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Responsibilities of a Midwife

One of the main misconceptions of midwifery is that the focus is on the baby. In reality, a midwife would see new mothers throughout their 9 months of pregnancy. Help deliver the baby and then continue to provide support through post-natal care.

As a midwife, you’ll be the expert on childbirth and your responsibilities are likely to be diverse. With your overall aim being to maintain the health of both mother and baby.

As an expert midwife, you’d need to:

  • Provide full antenatal care, including parenting classes, clinical examinations, and screening
  • Identify high-risk pregnancies
  • Monitor mothers and support them during labour and the birthing process
  • Educate new and expectant parents on how to feed, care for and bathe their babies

In the role of a midwife, you will be working with mothers from a variety of backgrounds, so you’ll need to be confident enough to communicate with different people. Some mothers and their families might be homeless, socially excluded, have disabilities or be very young. Others may be from certain cultural or religious backgrounds with different beliefs, which you would need to understand and respect.

Sometimes, pregnancies do not go to plan. Your midwife job role means you'll need to be on hand to offer support and advice on stillbirth, miscarriage, termination, neonatal death, and neonatal abnormalities.

Your midwifery roles and responsibilities do not stop at the birth of the baby. Since a midwife is involved with care until 28 days post-birth. You’ll be responsible for assisting in the education of the new parents.

You would give advice on the daily care of the baby. Including bathing and making up feeds (dependent on whether the parents choose formula or to breastfeed).

As an expert midwife, you’ll also need to liaise with other health and social care professionals to ensure continuity of care. Especially in the handover to the health visitor.

When you become a senior member of the midwifery team, you’ll also participate in the training and supervision of junior midwife colleagues.

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Key Skills of a Midwife

A calm, caring nature, and the ability to communicate well and put others at ease are essential attributes for midwives.

Although necessary to be a midwife, academic qualifications aren’t everything. There are many personal character traits you would need to possess to be successful in midwifery.

Excellent communication skills are essential to help mothers through possibly the hardest and most painful event of their life.

You will need to speak clearly and effectively with the mother/parents. Especially in the event of a medical emergency or complication. The ability to cope with distressing situations and to stay calm in stressful situations is also essential in midwife jobs.

People skills are also crucial as you’ll need to answer questions and offer advice. As well as constantly reassuring parents who are stressed or worried.

Your sense of humour will regularly be put to use to lift the mood and put mothers at ease. People tend to use comedy as a coping mechanism, so making someone laugh or smile can often help to diffuse a tense situation.

The other necessary personal skills for midwives are:

  • An ability to get on well with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • Emotional and mental strength
  • Good observation
  • An ability to act on your own initiative
  • Patience
  • Maturity
  • Willingness to take responsibility
  • Counselling
  • Listening

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Academic Skills

Every new mother you help as an expert midwife will need you to understand the emotional, physical, and psychological processes of pregnancy and birth. You will gain an understanding of all of these through your midwifery training and qualifications.

To practice as a midwife in the UK you must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). You’ll be required to complete an approved pre-registration degree programme to do this, which lasts three years full-time.

Half of the midwife course is spent studying at University, while the other half of midwife courses is based around practical placements. Providing you with important hands-on midwifery experience.

Part-time midwifery courses are available for those who are working in a relevant role and usually take five to six years. If you are already a qualified nurse looking to make the switch, a midwifery short course is on offer. Allowing you to qualify sooner than the three-year midwife course.

Acceptance onto a midwife course is subject to satisfactory health clearance and a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check. Though, having a criminal conviction or caution won’t automatically bar you from working in the NHS.

What’s more, all pre-registration midwifery students can now receive funding support of £5,000-£8,000 per year. You do not have to pay this back. And you’re still able to access funding for tuition and maintenance loans from the student loan company.

In order to gain acceptance onto a pre-registration midwifery degree, you will be required to meet entry requirements. Not all universities have the same entry requirements, so it would be worth checking with your desired institution before applying for a midwife course.

Typically, entry requirements include five GCSEs at grade 4 (grade C) or above. Inclusive of English, Maths and a Science. You would also need either two or three A Levels or equivalent.

An ideal equivalent to A Levels is an Access to Higher Education Diploma. This is the perfect route for those who have been out of schooling a while. So it’s great for more mature students. An Access to HE Diploma, dependent on your final grade, can give you between 48 and 144 UCAS tariff points. Equivalent to 3 A Levels.

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Study Midwifery

An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Midwifery) provides you with the foundational knowledge you would need to study for a degree. This Access to midwifery course will teach you about the roles of the midwife, as well as study relevant subjects like Biology and Physiology.

Through an Access to midwifery course, you’ll understand the social factors impacting health, as well as gain an introduction to Psychology. And you will also learn about human nutrition and the digestive system.

The Access to HE Diploma (Midwifery) is developed by industry experts, which helps give you the skills and knowledge to qualify for a midwifery degree. Not only this, but it has also been designed to prepare you for the level of study required in university.

What’s more, the Access to midwifery course can be studied entirely online, so you can study without having to sacrifice your current commitments.

learndirect is the UK’s leading distance learning provider, helping people achieve their potential. Find out more about how our midwifery Access course can kick start your new career below.

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