Midwifery is a privileged profession that enables midwives to be involved in one of the most significant times within a family's life cycle. Midwives are usually the first and main contact for expectant mothers during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. Preconception care and advice services are also a growing areas of practice and form an integral part of the midwife's role. Midwives are the lead professional at over 75% of UK births, helping mothers make informed choices about their available services and options as well as providing health promotion care and advice. They work in all healthcare settings as part of multidisciplinary and multi-agency teams, liaising with GPs, health visitors, social workers community organisations, speech and language therapists, play and development workers and other health care and community support services.
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A qualified midwife must be able to give necessary supervision, care and advice to women during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period. They are responsible for overseeing deliveries and the care of newborns and infants. This includes carrying out preventative measures, detecting abnormal conditions in mother and child, seeking further medical assistance and undertaking emergency measures in the absence of medical help. Midwives offer important health counselling and education covering antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and extending to certain areas of gynaecology, family planning and child care for not only women but also their families and the community. Midwives may practice in hospitals, clinics, health units, within the home or in any other service.
Midwives are responsible for newborn babies for the first 28 days of their lives when care is transferred to Health Visitors. As a qualified midwife you could be delivering a baby, teaching a mother how to feed her newborn and providing support to a newly pregnant mother or her partner. Midwives also work with other health and social care services to support teenage mothers, mothers who are socially excluded, disabled mothers and mothers from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
There are two routes to becoming a midwife:
The majority of students remain within their sponsored Trust and work in all healthcare settings as a part of multidisciplinary teams. There are good opportunities for others to become specialist midwives in bereavement, HIV and Aids, substance misuse, female genital mutilation, breast feeding, aquanatal, high risk care and many other areas.
You may wish to become a consultant midwife. In this role you would work clinically and carry out research, teaching and audit. Consultant midwifery posts are usually focused toward normality, community or public health. There are a few consultant midwives who lead and develop antenatal day unit services. Other career opportunities are in management. Managerial roles provide midwives with an opportunity to shape and focus the direction of maternity services. Lastly midwives may choose to become midwifery teachers or work as researchers. Both are exciting challenging roles which provide the opportunity for developing practice and practitioners.
Former LSBU students have gone on to specialise in areas such as teenage pregnancy, HIV, high risk care, Sure Start and Smoking Cessation. Qualified midwives can anticipate a starting salary around £19,523, with London Weighting bringing this up to £23,000. Senior midwives can command salaries in excess of £50,000.