How to Become a Midwife (Primary Duties and Essential Skills)
Updated June 23, 2023
Midwifery is an important part of the health sector, as it involves bringing babies safely into the world. A midwife typically delivers babies and offers prenatal, postnatal and general gynecological care to patients. Understanding how to become a midwife is critical in pursuing a career in midwifery. In this article, we discuss the necessary steps to become a midwife, highlight the essential skills you require as a midwife and outline the duties and responsibilities of a midwife.
How to become a midwife in 5 steps
Here are some of the essential steps on how to become a midwife:
1. Obtain a high school education
Completing a high school education is a requirement for several midwifery programs. Some programs require a minimum grade of 75% in Biology 12 U, Chemistry 12 U, and English 12 U courses. You are also to complete three other 12 U or M courses to be eligible for admission into a midwifery program. Some of these requirements vary according to the institution, so you can contact the admissions officer to be certain.
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2. Complete a four-year bachelor of midwifery program
Entry into the midwifery profession requires completing a four-year bachelor of midwifery program at any institution of your choice. These programs are direct entry as there are no other necessary credentials for entry. The courses you can expect include basic sciences, health sciences, social sciences and some related electives.
3. Obtain your license as a registered midwife
Working as a registered midwife requires that you take the Canadian Midwifery Registration Exams (CRME). The Canadian Midwifery Regulators Council sets and administers the exam, which takes place twice a year. Provincial and territorial regulators may have other requirements beyond the CRME. The exam typically comprises case-based and independent multiple-choice questions.
4. Apply for job positions as a midwife
You can begin applying for job positions after your registration. Midwives typically work in clinical or hospital settings. Several midwives also work in private practices, birth centres, university medical centres or private homes of patients. Likewise, career opportunities include health educator or researcher, national health worker, midwifery researcher or midwifery administrator. Note that the last two opportunities require additional education, experience and training. The national average salary of midwives is $47.10 per hour.
5. Obtain a postgraduate degree
Registered midwives can choose to further their education by obtaining a master's degree. This is because a higher midwifery degree typically results in more career opportunities and higher salaries. Admission requirements differ by institution, but most schools require a prior bachelor's degree in midwifery and a registration license.
Essential skills for midwives
Here are some of the essential skills you require as a midwife:
Possessing interpersonal skills is an essential skill for you as a midwife. Interpersonal skills help you work well with team members and communicate effectively with multiple patients in various situations. Midwives typically offer long-term services to patients from prenatal to postnatal procedures. This makes it essential to form relationships with patients, which good interpersonal skills help you achieve. Interpersonal skills are also necessary when dealing with the patient's family and friends.
Good listening skills
Listening skills are essential when dealing with multiple people, as is the case with midwives. Patients typically have a lot to say regarding their physical and mental states throughout their pregnancy. As a midwife, you're responsible for attentively listening to your patients to determine the appropriate steps to take. Listening helps you build a relationship with your patients as it enables you to understand them personally.
Midwives encounter challenging situations that necessitate efficient problem-solving skills. Problem-solving generally requires that you apply clinical knowledge or unorthodox knowledge when dealing with a difficult situation. Problem-solving skills are essential for midwives as the ability to solve problems can result in potentially positive consequences.
Excellent industry knowledge
Midwives require in-depth knowledge of fetal and child development, female anatomy, birth processes and postpartum delivery. Midwifery programs typically ensure that you can't become a midwife without this knowledge. Regardless, you can continuously update their clinical expertise to stay up-to-date in terms of industry practices and standards. You can do this by subscribing to various reputable journals and repositories, taking online courses and attending multiple clinical summits and events.
Excellent teaching skills
Midwives typically educate their patients on several topics, including how to stay healthy during pregnancy, what to eat and necessary exercises. Midwives also extend this education to their patient's partners. This makes it vital for midwives to possess efficient teaching skills. Likewise, midwives require this ability to break down complex medical information to their patients and loved ones.
Multitasking is also an essential skill for midwives for various reasons. Circumstances can require midwives to handle numerous things simultaneously, like monitoring contractions, the baby's heart rate and the mother's heart rate. It takes efficient multitasking skills to handle these tasks simultaneously. The ability to handle several tasks at once can also help you run a private practice as you will be responsible for hiring staff, marketing your practice and billing.
Good judgment skills are necessary for midwives due to the serious nature of their roles. Complications can arise throughout pregnancy, especially during delivery. These complications require prompt resolution and quick and good decision-making. For example, it's essential that midwives know when to request external support.
Ability to work well under pressure
Midwives require the ability to perform under pressure as their jobs can involve numerous pressure-inducing circumstances. For example, an emergency can develop during a delivery leading to a tense atmosphere. Midwives are to remain calm and perform optimally in these situations as it can help keep the patients relaxed. This ability is generally necessary to help calm uneasy patients and relations.
Pregnancy care and the human body are not always predictable. This volatility increases as the due delivery date draw nearer. Flexibility is an essential skill in navigating these circumstances as it can help you adapt well to new circumstances. Flexibility also helps in dealing with the human factor of the job. For example, patients may suddenly change their directions or decide on new procedures the midwife is to follow.
Stamina and physical strength
Midwifery typically involves physically demanding tasks. Depending on several factors, delivery can take hours or even more than a day. This necessitates excellent physical ability from the midwife to ensure they continue to perform optimally despite increasing hours. Midwives typically move their patients around. This includes helping them move into a different position, holding their legs to aid the delivery, supporting their backs, or giving a massage. Performing these activities requires a measure of physical strength.
Conflict management skills
Midwives typically work in teams and collaborate with other hospital or clinic staff. The stressful nature of the job can lead to conflicts between midwives and other hospital staff. Midwives require conflict resolution skills to navigate through resulting differences without compromising the patient's health. Likewise, uneasy patients or their loved ones can be rude towards the midwives or other persons due to their emotional state. Midwives need to be able to de-escalate situations to help restore calm.
Midwives usually work with other midwives, nurses and doctors in performing their duties. This setup requires that a midwife possesses excellent teamwork skills to ensure they provide optimal healthcare services. They can also encourage an atmosphere where their colleagues can raise suggestions and ask questions.
Attention to detail
Midwives require excellent attention to detail. This skill can help a midwife detect subtle changes or symptoms in their patients or newborns. These changes can lead to a quick diagnosis or a prompt transfer to further care in case of complications. The skill is also helpful during delivery and patient recovery as it can lead to better judgment and decision-making.
Midwives require a high level of empathy and sensitivity, as they are dealing with people who are in some of the most exciting, emotional and vulnerable times of their lives. The physical and hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy and childbirth require understanding and empathy on the midwife's part. This empathy also extends to the patient's loved ones as they also undergo stress during such periods.
CPR and first aid skills
Knowledge of CPR and other first-aid skills is necessary for midwives. This is because emergencies can require the midwife to perform CPR or other first-aid techniques to salvage the situation. These skills are more vital for midwives who perform deliveries and checkups away from medical centres, where proper medical services are not quickly accessible.
Here are some of the primary responsibilities of a midwife:
observing the health of pregnant women and their babies before and after delivery
teaching patients and their loved ones about reproductive health, antenatal and postnatal care and preparation for parenthood
educating patients on pain management techniques in preparation for labour
delivering babies in birthing centres, patient's homes or hospitals
providing encouragement and emotional support during labour
taking and recording patients' temperature, blood pressure and pulse
teaching new mothers how to feed their newborns properly
advising patients concerning their diets, medications and exercises
assisting patients and their loved ones cope with stillbirths, miscarriages, terminations and neonatal deaths
Knowing how to become a midwife is the first step to pursuing this challenging and rewarding career.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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