Training to become a midwife takes both time and commitment. To safely deliver babies and care for new mothers as their bodies adapt and change during pregnancy requires specific skills and knowledge. Something which takes time to learn.
Depending on the qualifications you have before you start a midwifery course, it can take between three and four years to qualify. If you’re looking at becoming a midwife later in life, that doesn’t mean you should give up before you get started.
If you’re worried you’re too old to become a midwife, consider this: No matter how old you are now, in four years’ time you’ll be four years older, whether you studied to be a midwife or not. Mature midwives are welcomed to the profession, so if you want to become a midwife, the only thing stopping you is you.
Midwifery is so much more than just a job. You will be a pillar of strength and support to families throughout the entire process, from conception, throughout pregnancy, the birth and even as they adapt to life as parents.
It is no doubt a role that is equally challenging as it is rewarding, but if you’re prepared to take on the tough times, you will be rewarded by helping set new families up for success, which is pretty special.
There’s also a shortage of midwives within the NHS at present so it’s a great time to join the profession!
Is Midwifery right for me?
While age isn’t a factor, you need to make sure being a midwife is right for you before you apply to study midwifery courses. You wouldn’t want to spend all that time completing a midwifery uni course to later find out the role isn’t what you expected.
Working as a midwife requires considerable commitment as you need to be on hand to support expectant mothers whenever they need it. So you can expect some anti-social hours and even to be on call from time to time.
You also need certain personal qualities for this type of work. Arguably the most important is the capacity for empathy and to show you care about your patients. Pregnancy and childbirth can be an anxious – even scary – experience. That’s why midwives must put the mothers they support at ease, especially when trying to deliver a baby safely.
Midwives are also required to work with people from all walks of life, and those with different needs and challenges. In this case, you also need the ability to relate and get on well with all people to do your job effectively. In addition to this, you need to be aware and respectful of the social and cultural context in which each birth is taking place.
To be a successful midwife, you will also need to have the emotional resilience to cope with the challenging aspects of pregnancy and birth. Unfortunately, some won’t go to plan and you need to be able to cope with that, both in the moment and later, once the adrenaline has worn off.
It also helps if you have a strong stomach. Midwives are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids daily in their job, so if the thought of that makes you squeamish, then perhaps midwifery isn’t right for you.
If, however, you feel you can cope with all of the above, and more, then you’ve found your true calling!
How to become a Midwife
Depending on your skills, experience and the qualifications you already hold, the route to midwifery can vary.
If you’ve previously worked as a midwife, you can enrol on Return to Practice midwifery courses that will assess your knowledge and skill level and get you up to speed on any midwifery practise advancements. The length of these return to midwifery courses depends on the gap in your knowledge. However, once you’ve passed you can re-join the NMC and get a job as a midwife.
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to study one of the midwifery university courses that are approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), or a midwifery degree apprenticeship that combines studying and working.
To get on to a degree level midwifery course, you will need three A Levels and supporting GCSEs. These GCSEs must include grade C/4 in Maths and English. The A Levels you’ll need for midwifery university courses vary from one university to the next, as they are allowed to set their own entry requirements.
However, the most common A Levels for midwifery courses include Biology, Chemistry, Sociology, and Psychology in one combination or another. Competition to get on to midwifery courses is quite fierce, so the higher grades you have the better.
Depending on your existing qualifications you have a few options:
If You Don’t Have GCSEs
Should you not have GCSEs in Maths or English you can either take those courses, which can take up to two years, or you can shorten the time it takes to meet these requirements by studying Functional Skills qualifications. These are a nationally accepted equivalent to GCSEs when studied at Level 2.
Functional Skills courses in English and Maths are ideal for people looking to become a midwife later in life, as they shorten the overall time it takes you to get qualified. These courses focus on the practical applications of both subjects and can be completed in just a few weeks or months.
If You Don’t Have A Levels
If you don’t have the required A Levels, or the grades, for midwifery courses, you can either study those A Levels individually or take an Access to midwifery course to get on the fast track to midwifery.
Both approaches are valid and both will get you on to approved midwifery university courses. However, the approaches are different.
A Levels are courses dedicated to their chosen subjects. So, while you will learn about human biology as part of A Level Biology, you will learn about other elements of biology that may not be pertinent to your career choice.
An Access to midwifery course is focused solely on giving you all the information you need to start studying midwifery at degree level.
Arguably the downside is you don’t get that wider education. However, in terms of getting the knowledge and qualification you need to start your midwifery training quickly, access to midwifery courses really can’t be beaten.
Especially since the majority of Stonebridge students finish their access to midwifery courses in 9-12months.
Starting Your Career As A Midwife
Whether you choose to study A Levels or an Access to midwifery course online, you can do so from home thanks to distance learning providers.
This allows you to study at your own pace and complete the course quickly. Furthermore, because you can enrol and start studying right away, you don’t need to wait for term to start. The only thing you do need to consider is when the exams are held if your course has them. Remember, there are no exams when studying Access to midwifery courses. You can check the assessment details and plan your studies once you’ve enrolled.
As soon as you enrol, you can access all of your learning materials via the student portal. You can then work through it as it suits you as the only timetable you need to worry about is your own.
You will also get dedicated support from tutors who will be available to answer your questions as well as mark and provide feedback on your assignments.
So, if you’re looking to switch careers and become a midwife, all you need to do is enrol!
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is one of the UK’s leading distance learning providers. To learn more about our Access to Higher Education Diploma in Midwifery, click the link below. Alternatively, get in touch with our Course Executives by calling them on 0121 392 8288 or speaking with them online.