Midwives are the lead healthcare professionals for women, taking care of their welfare during pregnancy, labour and into the early postnatal period.

In straightforward pregnancies, midwives are responsible for planning, managing and delivering care. If a woman has a complicated pregnancy, or experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth, midwives take on the role of care coordinator, ensuring she receives the necessary support from the appropriate health and social care services.


The most important thing is having the ability to care. Being compassionate, being able to empathise with the person you’re directly performing care with. And also considering the wider determinant, you need to have an understanding of how things impact families, how things impact somebody’s entire life.

It’s people just saying to you, “thank you”, I would never have been able to do it without you. And while that’s not necessarily important to me, it’s important to them, to know that you made a difference in their lives.

If you worked in a bank, or if you worked in another organisation, then things may well be very similar. But in nursing, no two days are the same. That was probably one of the biggest draws into the profession.

Children and young people, to me, are our future. Not only here locally, but right across Scotland. They’re out future, and we need to make sure they’re healthy and they have the emotional health and wellbeing.

It’s an immense privilege to look after someone in their own home. You’re a visitor in their own home, but you very quickly become part of their life, while they’re living through whatever ordeal they’re going through. And this allows you to assist them in any way, act as an advocate, signpost to help, and deliver the best care that you can provide at the right time.

In most nursing jobs, you don’t stop learning. There’s always going to be something new, there’s always going to be a new piece of equipment, or a new procedure or a new method of giving care to patients.

I always say a smile goes a long, long way and I think it’s really important we remember sometimes it’s the simplest things you do for people that make a difference.

The Role(s)

Registered midwives work on antenatal, labour and postnatal wards as well as in neonatal units. They also work in the community, within GP surgeries or local clinics and visit women and their newborns at home.

Midwives help women and their families learn about pregnancy and the processes of childbirth, explaining what will happen and discussing any choices that need to be made. Ensuring a positive experience for mothers and their babies is one of the most important aspects of the job. As experts in childbirth, the role of a midwife can be demanding and carries plenty of responsibility.

The duties of a midwife typically include:

  • giving pregnant women advice on lifestyle choices, such as healthy eating or smoking cessation
  • planning, implementing and evaluating midwifery care during pregnancy and childbirth
  • running antenatal classes
  • monitoring the baby during labour and birth
  • providing postnatal care for women and newborns in midwife-led units and after their discharge home from hospital


Skills, Interests and Abilities

As a midwife, you’ll need to be:

  • physically fit
  • able to work in a team environment
  • confident when carrying out procedures
  • patient and tactful
  • a good communicator, with excellent people skills
  • flexible in your approach to work
  • able to deal with emotionally charged situations
  • able to remain calm under pressure
  • able to cope with the demands of a large caseload and unpredictable workload while supporting colleagues

 Other essential abilities include:

  • answering questions and offering advice
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • being compassionate and sensitive







Entry Requirements

Becoming a midwife means undertaking professional education at degree level. All midwives working in NHSScotland must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), once they have graduated from an approved educational institution. In Scotland, the list of NMC approved educational institutions includes:

To gain entry to a midwifery degree course, you are likely to need 4 SQA Highers at BBBC grade, including English and a science subject. A pass in National 5 English and Maths grade A - C may also be required, if these subjects are not achieved at SQA Higher grade.

Entry requirements vary depending on the university, college or provider. You are advised to contact each individual provider to find out more.

Short programmes

Some midwives are qualified nurses who have chosen to change career direction and undertake the extra study necessary to be registered as a midwife. A qualified nurse can complete a midwifery short programme if they wish to retrain as a midwife.

If you are a qualified and registered adult nurse wanting information about the pre-registration midwifery short programme, please search for courses using the UCAS website.

Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) – Nursing and Midwifery (SCQF Level 6)

Some midwives begin their career in a healthcare support worker, such as a maternity support worker, before going on to study for a registered midwifery degree. The SWAP Nursing and Midwifery programme is for adults returning to education, perhaps changing career or seeking to gain the equivalent university entry qualifications needed for a midwifery degree. There are no formal entry requirements, but applicants should have a good standard of general education and have been away from formal education for a minimum of 2 – 3 years.

Successful completion of the course could lead to:

  • A midwifery degree by applying to universities that participate in the SWAP partnership programme
  • HNC Social Care
  • NHC Additional Support Needs
  • NHC Care

Please visit the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) website for more information.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme

Midwives are required to become members of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme in respect of regulated work protected adults and children. This scheme is managed by Disclosure Scotland.

Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in a clinical setting. For more information, about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

Learning and Development

Induction training will be provided by the recruiting NHSScotland board when you start. Additional training normally covers the following:

  • infection control
  • moving and handling
  • risk management
  • immediate life support
  • health and safety

With further training you could work in specific areas of midwifery, such as ultrasound or neonatal care, caring for women with substance misuse issues or for teenage pregnant mothers. Others take up roles in management, midwife education or research, sometimes in combination with ongoing practice as a midwife.

Healthcare is constantly developing, technology improving, and the needs of the population changing. It's necessary to keep yourself up to date with health care issues and practice.

Midwives at all levels need to show leadership. Students and healthcare support workers often look to junior midwives for guidance and support, while at higher levels midwives may lead teams of midwives, whole departments or services.

You might become a Senior Charge Midwife (SCM). SCMs are responsible for ensuring that the highest standards of care are delivered in the way in which service users and the wider public expect. This includes motivating and empowering all their staff to place dignity, privacy and compassion at the centre of their practice.

A number of initiatives have been developed to support midwives as they move forward in their careers, including Flying Start NHS, Effective Practitioner, Early Clinical Career Fellowships, Leading Better Care and NHSScotland's National Leadership Unit. The Scottish Multi-Professional Maternity Development Programme (SMMDP) also supports further skills development and promotes best practice.

NMC revalidation

Revalidation is a new process which midwives need to follow to maintain their registration with the NMC every 3 years.

The requirements for revalidation are:

  • 450 practice hours
  • 35 hours of CPD including 20 hours of participatory learning
  • Five pieces of practice-related feedback
  • Five written reflective accounts
  • Reflective discussion
  • Health and character declaration
  • Professional indemnity arrangement
  • Confirmation

Professional Bodies

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is the governing body for nurses and midwives, ensuring their knowledge and skills are up to date. The NMC website also contains information about registration, training and professional standards for nurses and midwives in Scotland and the rest of the UK. 


The Royal College of Midwives (RCM)

The Royal College of Midwives is a professional organisation dedicated to midwifery. It provides work place support and advice, clinical guidance and information on learning and career development. Find out more on the RCM website.