As a midwife you would care for and support pregnant women, their partners and babies, before,
during and after childbirth.
Your work with women before a birth, would typically include:
q giving advice on issues such as healthy eating
q explaining options such as hospital or home delivery, natural childbirth and types of pain relief
q running antenatal and parenting classes
q monitoring the health of the mother and baby during pregnancy.
During labour, your duties would involve:
q checking how labour is progressing
q monitoring the baby during labour and birth
q administering pain relief (pethidine or gas-and-air) or advising on ways of managing pain
q delivering the baby, which may include carrying out an episiotomy (surgical cut) and inserting
stitches after the birth
referring to a doctor if you identify any medical complications which could affect the safety of the
mother or baby.
Once the baby is born, your work could include giving advice to families on feeding, bathing and
generally caring for their baby. As a midwife based in the community, you would make home visits
to check on the health of the mother and baby for up to one month after the birth.
To qualify as a registered midwife you need to complete a degree in midwifery leading to
registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Courses take at least three years to
To get on to a course, you will usually need:
q at least five GCSEs (A-C), including English and maths/science
q two or three A levels, possibly including biology
q evidence of your good health and good character.
You must also agree to a Criminal Records Bureau check.
q Criminal Records Bureau
Check with course providers (listed on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)
website) for exact entry details because alternative qualifications, such as an Access to Higher
Education course, may also be accepted. The NMC website also includes further advice.
q Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
q Nursing and Midwifery Council
Midwifery degree courses attract a non-repayable, income-assessed (means-tested) bursary to
cover living expenses. Your fees would also usually be paid. Check the NHS Business Services
Authority website for details.
q NHS Business Services Authority
Once you are on the degree, you will spend time studying at university as well as on work
placements in hospitals, the community and in clients' homes.
Courses usually take at least three years to complete, however, if you are a registered nurse (adult
branch), your training may be shortened to around 18 months. You will need to contact midwifery
degree course providers directly to check if they also offer the accelerated programme.
If you qualified as a midwife overseas, you may need to complete a midwifery adaptation
programme before you can register and work in the UK. Contact the NMC for details.
q Nursing and Midwifery Council
You would usually work 37.5 hours a week, including evening, weekend and night shifts. Many
hospitals offer part-time hours.
You could be based in various settings including hospital maternity units, GP surgeries, midwife-led
units and birth centres.
In some NHS trusts you would split your time between working in the community and working in
hospitals. In other trusts, you may be rotated every six months between antenatal, delivery and
As a community midwife, you would travel to attend clinics and to visit clients in their homes.
Skills and Knowledge
q excellent communication and 'people' skills
q the ability to inspire trust and confidence
q patience and tact
q respect for the needs of families from a variety of cultures
q strong teamworking skills, with the initiative to work alone
q a calm manner in stressful situations
q physical and mental stamina.
Training and Development
As a qualified midwife you must renew your registration with the NMC every three years. To
re-register you must:
q have worked a minimum of 450 hours
q show that you are developing your knowledge and competence and keeping up to date in your
q complete a minimum of 35 hours' professional study
q keep records of your professional development.
Check with the NMC for details.
You could take further training to specialise in particular aspects of midwifery, such as ultrasound
or neo-natal care. Check the website or contact the helpline of the Health Learning and Skills
Advice Line for advice.
q Health Learning and Skills Advice Line
If you have had a break from working as a midwife and your registration has lapsed you will need
to take a return-to-practice course. Courses are available throughout the UK and include a mixture
of theory and clinical placements. Contact your local NHS Trust for details.
q NHS Choices
See the NMC website for full details of re-registration.
q Nursing and Midwifery Council
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
23 Portland Place
Tel: 020 7333 9333
Queens University of Belfast
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Medical Biology Centre
97 Lisburn Road
Tel: 028 9097 2233
University of Ulster at Jordanstown
School of Nursing
Tel: 08700 400 700
NHS Education for Scotland
22 Queen Street
Tel: 0131 226 7371
Health Learning and Skills Advice Line
Tel: 08000 150850
National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare
Tel: 01443 233 333
PO Box 376
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
You would find most jobs in the NHS, although you could also work in private hospitals and clinics.
You may also find opportunities overseas, especially in developing countries.
With experience, you could become a ward manager or team leader, responsible for a hospital
ward or a team of midwives in the community. You may be able to progress to director of midwifery
or midwifery consultant - you would usually need a Masters degree or PhD for this.
Alternatively, you could take further training to become a health visitor or neonatal nurse
(specialising in the treatment of women and babies with health problems surrounding birth). You
may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading: (links open in new window)
NHS Choices (for a list of local NHS Trusts)
Royal College of Midwives (Jobs & Careers page)
What Can I Do With My Degree (NHS Careers)
We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.
q Midwives in the NHS can earn between £20,700 and £33,500 a year.
q Team managers can earn around £39,300.
q Midwife consultants earn up to £65,600.
Extra allowances can be earned for additional responsibilities, length of service, and geographical
Figures are a guideline only.
Health Promotion Specialist
Maternity Support Worker