If you are interested in becoming a midwife and you have not had previous experience of giving direct care to someone with health needs, it might be an advantage to organise some form of experience in this area before applying for a course and/or attending for interview. Some midwifery units will offer the facility for you to spend a few days observing the work that midwives undertake, but this is becoming increasingly uncommon where greater precautions are now taken to ensure the safety and security of women and their newborn babies.
As an alternative, it may be helpful to contact your local maternity unit and ask if you can arrange to speak with one of the midwives about their role.
An alternative, if your personal circumstances would permit this, is to work as a Health Care Assistant (HCA) for a few months, even where the work is not primarily related to midwifery. This type of experience can help to demonstrate your interest and commitment towards becoming a midwife. It can also help you gain a better understanding of health care provision, as well as experience of working in the clinical environment, and as part of a wider multiprofessional team.
If that is not possible, public sector working such as finding out and getting involved in local support groups for women in pregnancy and for new mothers might also help with your application.
This advice is given in order for you to have an understanding of what constitutes care and support in a formal, statutory environment, such as the NHS, as well as those formed from community initiatives. It is important that you are aware that the role and responsibilities of qualified nurses are different from those of qualified midwives. This is quite a complicated issue which revolves around what the midwife is legally able to undertake on their own responsibility (‘professional autonomy’), without needing medical direction or consent.
Although this is changing in some areas of nursing practice, midwives consider that they have a different level of responsibility and so, it is never appropriate to refer to a midwife as a nurse or vice versa. What does need to be recognised however, is that nursing – as a form of care – will on occasions be undertaken by midwives. However, nurses are not legally approved to undertake midwifery care where this involves midwifery observations and direct clinical care to the woman and her baby.
Click the links below for general information on midwifery, applying for courses and more.