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How to become a midwife

How to become a midwife
Photo: How to become a midwife
A Midwife's Role Is Special and Rewarding

If you are searching for a career that's personally and financially rewarding and where no two days are ever the same, then you might want to consider becoming a midwife. It gives you the opportunity to spend time with women and their families during one of the most life changing and exciting moments that they'll ever experience.  Respected and very much in demand locally, the skills learned are also recognised globally. This gives you the scope to work pretty much anywhere in the world.

So what exactly does a midwife do?

Providing care for pregnant and birthing women throughout their pre-conceptual, ante-natal and post natal periods, a midwife will educate and support those who are going through pregnancy. They are
trained to monitor the baby and the mother throughout the entire process ensuring their comfort and medical well-being. In addition to this they may also give family planning advice and assist with any other health issues.

What's a typical day like?

Firstly the very fact of being a midwife means that days are never typical. Since babies don't tend to arrive only between 9am and 5pm, shift work is normal and you may also be on call. Carrying out routine ultrasound tests, blood pressure checks and relaying findings back to the family, are all tasks that a midwife would do on a daily basis. It could also be that you are dispensing advice to groups of new mothers, dealing with a particularly complicated and long birth, or tasked with home visits.

How to become a midwife?

In essence there are two avenues a person can take if they are looking for a career in midwifery. If you don't have any sort of nursing qualification, then you'll need to complete a Midwifery degree otherwise known as a Bachelor of Midwifery course. These are available in most Australian territories and states and are a three year undergraduate degree course. 50% of the course is generally theory, whilst the remaining 50% is hands on learning in clinical placements.

The other way to become a midwife is to firstly complete a Bachelor of Nursing Degree. This takes three years. Then you need to specialise by taking a Graduate Diploma or a Master of  Midwifery course. Both take a further 12-18 months to complete.

Anyone wanting further information about the availability of courses and costs involved should get in touch with the Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) in their relevant state. They should also be able to tell you which courses are accredited.

Where can you be expected to work?

Typically a midwife can be expected to work in a number of places such as

• On maternity wards or units in large hospitals
• Smaller delivery units
• Birthing centres
• Private maternity hospitals
• General practices
• In the community

In addition there is now a growing trend for self-employed / freelance midwives to operate within the community.

How much can a midwife expect to earn?

A general starting salary for a newly qualified midwife working in the public sector is somewhere around $55,600, ranging to $80,000 depending upon experience and length of time in post. Salaries within the private sector can vary greatly. These figures are not inclusive of shift allowances and other financial rewards you might receive.

What about career development?

Once you're a fully qualified midwife there is plenty of opportunity for further career development. Why not specialise in certain areas of midwifery including home birthing, ante-natal screening, ultrasound and foetal medicine and post natal care? A step up to consultant midwife gives you the opportunity to mentor  and train others, and for those who have aspirations, then higher management opportunities exists such as Midwife Supervisor of Head of Midwifery services.

Conclusion

A career in Midwifery may not be to everyone's taste, after all it can involve long hours and shifts. however for those who do take the plunge, it's incredibly rewarding, extremely varied and above all  can really make a difference to people's lives.

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