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The seven truths of Midwifery

According to the Royal College of Midwives report ‘State of Maternity Services (2018)’, the UK currently has a shortage of 3500 midwives. We love our student midwives for their hard work and dedication, and our Midwifery course currently has a 97.5% employability rate. With International Day of the Midwife approaching, we’ve spoken to one of our Midwifery graduates, Danielle Carey, who’s told us what being a Midwife is really like…  

“Studying midwifery was great, but a lot has changed in recent years. For instance, students no longer have the incentive of the NHS bursary, but employability rates are better than ever before and will provide sensible financial security for the future. However, individuals who aspire to be midwives aren’t necessarily driven by the financial side of it, instead they’re usually unique, kind and let their heart rule over their heads. You can read the facts of the university all over this website, but here are the seven nitty gritty truths of Midwifery.

1. Whatever you think Midwifery is, it is so much more.

You may already have your own perception of what Midwifery will be like, maybe from the media or from stories you’ve heard from other people – whatever the source was that sparked the dream for you, it’s a small pebble in a large pond. You will be physically, emotionally and mentally pushed to your limits in this job. It’s not all sunshine and roses and not every ending is a happy one in maternity.

2. It can open so many more doors than you think.

Once all of your hard work pays off, though, you’ll have a well-earned Midwifery degree that will open a world of opportunities for you. Naturally, the NHS would like you to become a clinical Midwife and this is where we all start once those graduation caps have been flung into the air! Once you’ve put in the hard work and moved up a band, the world becomes your oyster. You can choose to remain in the clinical field or branch off into a specialist subject, clinical research or re-enter university as the teacher! There are no limits – how fast and how far you go is up to you.

3. It will open your eyes to different ways of life.

I didn’t realise how much more there was to learn about the world until Midwifery opened my eyes to the true diversity that exists in society, from the rich to the poor, the happy to the sad and the easy situations to the down-right problematic! You’ll also meet women from every corner of the world and learn how to manage a range of cultural and language differences. Then of course, you’ll witness those who are the proud bearers of large families, and those who can’t carry a pregnancy full-term, despite their desires. It really is a wave of love and loss, beginnings and bereavements. 

4. Midwifery will change you.

Your experiences within midwifery will change you. How much and how quickly will depend on your clinical environment but you will be a different person to the one before you became a midwife. Those who work in healthcare will say you become more ‘resilient’. It’s a subtle change and it may be the simplest of experiences that will make you notice – for instance, when I was driving recently, I noticed that I was always most assertive when I was at a roundabout and I thought, “That’s the Midwife in me.” It ruins your handwriting too!

5. The financial benefits

Midwifery offers a financial security within the NHS as there will always be employment for as long as you want it as well as vast opportunities such as specialising or working abroad. There’s also a great pension plan that will allow you the real chance of retirement.

Once you’ve completed your degree, the prospect of a wage will be very exciting but as you progress through your preceptorship period you may start to feel like your pay packet doesn’t match your abilities and workload. Be assured though that once you rise through the paygrades, the gap between your wage and abilities will begin to close and at a rate quicker than other career choices.

6. You’ll learn a variety of pivotal skills

You’ll begin as a student, watching your mentor in awe as they can tell which way up a baby lies in the uterus just by examining a woman’s abdomen with their hands and how they instinctively know how to prepare a room for birth just by how the mother sounds during her labour. They can take various blood samples and repair tears to the perineum without breaking a sweat. They remain calm under pressure and manage a post-natal ward or antenatal clinic like a conductor with his orchestra. They can reassure with the touch of their hands and comfort with their words and you’ll wonder how on earth you’ll ever be able to perform these skills. However, before you know it, they’ll have taught you everything they know and you’ll be the one mentoring student midwives.

7. It’s a calling

Midwifery is an art that encompasses everything related to women and childbirth. If you want to study midwifery, you should have an interest in the physical wonder of the female body and her ability to grow and adapt to accommodate new life. You should be empathetic to the vulnerability of the female mind and be inspired to support her ability to process and adjust to change. You should be fascinated by the strength a woman in labour can muster when she feels she can do no more but has to deliver her baby safely into the world. You should also be able to consider the role of a woman within the family unit and think of the health promotion involved, including breast feeding and support as new bodily functions are mastered by both mother and baby. Your ability to communicate is an invaluable asset that will be necessary to relationship building and trust. They say Midwifery is less of a choice and rather a calling. If you’ve read this far, perhaps Midwifery has chosen you!

newborn baby rests on mother's chest

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