Midwives provide support to women before, during and after childbirth, making sure babies receive the care they need at the earliest stages of life.
As experts in childbirth, the role of a midwife can be demanding and carries plenty of responsibility.
To work in the NHS, midwives must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Starting your career
Choosing subjects at school
To get on a course that could lead to a career as a midwife, useful subjects include:
- Human Biology
A Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare, taken in S5 or S6, could help you gain new skills and valuable work experience.
Find out more about Foundation Apprenticeships at apprenticeships.scot.
If you’re at school or thinking of changing career, doing a work placement could help you when applying to college, university or for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS.
College and university
At college, you can do an HNC in Care and Administrative Practice, which could lead to an undergraduate pre-registration midwifery degree.
Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. Many universities also provide access programmes to help learners get the degree entry qualifications they need.
In Scotland, the following universities offer undergraduate programmes in midwifery, approved by the NMC:
- Edinburgh Napier University
- Robert Gordon University
- University of the West of Scotland
Pre-registration undergraduate programmes usually take 3 years of full-time study.
Search for related further and higher education courses on My World of Work. You should check specific entry requirements before applying.
One of the most important aspects of the job is making sure mothers and their babies have a positive experience. You’ll care for women from lots of different backgrounds, with different needs.
You would help women and their families learn about pregnancy and the processes of childbirth. You’d also explain what will happen and discuss any choices that need to be made.
In straightforward pregnancies, you would be responsible for planning, managing and delivering care. If a woman has a complicated pregnancy, or experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth, you would take on the role of care coordinator. You’d make sure the necessary support from the appropriate health and social care services is provided.
As a midwife, you’ll need to be able to review clinical information and make decisions about care. This could include providing support and advice about:
- neonatal abnormalities or death
What you’ll do
- giving pregnant women advice on lifestyle choices, such as healthy eating or help to stop smoking
- planning, delivering and reviewing midwifery care during pregnancy and childbirth
- running antenatal classes
- monitoring the baby during labour and birth
- providing postnatal care for women and newborns
Midwives at all levels need to show leadership. Students and maternity support workers often look to junior midwives for guidance and support.
You’ll need these skills:
- caring for people
- working in a team
- communicating with people
- problem-solving skills
- critical thinking skills
- helping people
Who you’ll work with
Midwives usually work in a team with other health and social care professionals, including:
- maternity support workers
- neonatal nurses
- health visitors
- social workers
As a midwife the NHS, you could work in:
- antenatal, labour and postnatal wards
- neonatal units
- health centres
- people’s homes
Midwives also work in midwife-led units providing antenatal, labour and postnatal care to women and their newborns.
To work as a midwife in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:
- register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
- complete occupational health checks
- join the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme managed by Disclosure Scotland
Did you know?
There are over 2,900 registered midwives working in the NHS in Scotland.
Learning and development
Healthcare is constantly improving and technology evolving. The needs of the population are changing, so you’ll up to date with health care issues and practice.
Once registered as a midwife, there are ongoing requirements for education and skills development. You’ll also have lots of opportunities to go further and learn more.
In your first year as a newly qualified midwife, you’ll get extra support and guidance through the Flying Start programme.
In the NHS, you may choose to be a midwife throughout your career, keeping up to date through continuing professional development. However, taking extra courses and workplace learning could lead to progression through the career pathway to senior, advanced or consultant level.
A number of initiatives have been developed to support midwives as they move forward in their careers, including:
- Effective Practitioner
- Early Clinical Career Fellowships
- Leading Better Care
- Scottish Multi-Professional Maternity Development Programme
- Leadership and Management Zone on Turas Learn
During your career, you could become a senior charge midwife. You would make sure the highest standards of care are delivered in the way in which service users and the wider public expect. This includes motivating and empowering staff to place dignity, privacy and compassion at the centre of their practice.
At higher levels, you may lead a team of midwives, a whole department or service.
Revalidation is a process which midwives need to follow in order to maintain their registration with the NMC every 3 years.
It is an ongoing process throughout your career as a midwife and aims to:
- promote good practice
- maintain and strengthen public confidence in the profession
Find out more about revalidation on the NMC website.