Midwives look after women and their babies during pregnancy, and during and after birth. They give advice to individuals and groups, before and after the birth of a baby. This job is open to both women and men.
You could be:
examining a pregnant woman and discussing her options for labour
giving advice to individuals and giving talks and running classes on contraception, fertility or labour
assisting at the birth either in hospital or at the woman's home
administering pain relief to the woman, either injections of pethidine, or gas-and-air delivered by machine
if labour is difficult, carrying out an episiotomy (surgical cut) and inserting stitches after the birth
cutting the umbilical cord and if necessary carrying out resuscitation to the baby
carrying out home visits for up to a month after the birth, checking both mother and baby
keeping records of patients and their progress.
On the NHS Agenda for Change salary scale, as a midwife you start on Band 5, £26,104 to £32,915 a year. With experience this would rise to Band 6, £33,072 to £40,736 a year.
A midwife team manager can earn on Band 7, £40,872 to £47,846 a year.
The current pay scales are from April 2021.
You might work in a maternity hospital or the maternity unit of a general hospital.
You might work in the community, in an antenatal clinic, health centre or doctor’s surgery, or in a midwife-led maternity unit (MLMU).
You often visit patients in their homes and might assist at home births.
If you work in hospital, you would work shifts.
If you work in the community, you would sometimes be on call.
You would wear a uniform and sometimes protective clothing.
To qualify as a midwife you need to complete a pre-registration degree in midwifery, usually lasting 3 years. Entry requirements are 4 Highers, usually including English and a science subject plus National 5 Maths. You apply through UCAS.
Approved midwifery degree courses are offered by Edinburgh Napier University, Robert Gordon University and the University of the West of Scotland.
An Access to nursing and midwifery course may also give entry. However, always check that the course is accepted by the college or university you want to go to before you apply.
You can qualify first as a registered nurse and then complete a short midwifery training programme.
Some midwives start their career as a healthcare worker, such as maternity support worker, before going on to study for a degree in midwifery.
Financial support is available from the Nursing and Midwifery Bursary Section of the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You should have a good level of physical fitness and you will have to undergo health screening.
When you complete your training you must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
A driving licence is useful.
Most midwives work in the National Health Service (NHS), but you might also be able to work in private hospitals, clinics and the Armed Forces. You can find NHS job vacancies in Scotland by visiting NHS Scotland Recruitment.
able to get on well with people from a wide range of backgrounds
interested in foetal, and child physical and psychological development
observant and able to act on your own initiative
interested in helping women and babies
able to answer questions and give advice
patient and tactful
practical and not squeamish
willing to take responsibility and remain calm in stressful situations.
Once you have gained your NMC registration, training is on the job.
During your first year as a qualified midwife you would get extra support and guidance through the Flying Start Programme.
To continue working as a nurse you must renew your registration with the NMC every three years.
With experience you could progress to a senior post such as senior charge midwife or a consultant midwife.
To renew your registration you must keep your skills and knowledge up to date, by undertaking at least 35 hours of relevant study and 450 practice hours every three years. This is known as Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
You could become self-employed, as a private midwife.
With further training you could work in a specific area of midwifery such as ultrasound or neonatal, or working with teenage mums.
You might find work abroad. This is easier if you are also a registered nurse as some countries do not accept the direct midwifery qualification.
The Scottish Government runs the One Year Job Guarantee (OYJG) Scheme for newly qualified nurses and midwives to help improve their chances of finding work as well as developing their skills. The positions are one-year fixed term contracts at 22.5 hours a week, set at grade 5 on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale. For further details contact NHS Education for Scotland.
The Royal College of Midwifery has an excellent resource on their website, Want to be a Midwife?, which includes videos on people working in the profession.