Midwives work to bring new life into the world and play a vital role in every stage of pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period. They provide full antenatal  care, which involves supporting patients before the birth. This includes parenting classes, clinical examinations and screenings. Midwives will identify high-risk pregnancies, monitor pregnant people and provide essential support during labour and the birthing process. Postnatal care involves both ensuring new parents are physically well after birth and providing support for their emotional wellbeing and development of their family - this includes everything from providing feeding support and baby bath demonstrations to liasing with social workers. 


What do midwives do? 

Midwives make a huge impact on their patients every day as they support them through the emotional, physical and psychological processes of pregnancy and birth.

Some of the key roles and responsibilities of a midwife include: 

•    Providing full antenatal care, including parenting classes, clinical examinations and screening 
•    Being a source of support and advice throughout the pregnancy process
•    Identifying high-risk pregnancies
•    Monitoring patients and supporting them during labour and the birthing process 
•    Teaching new and expectant mothers how to feed, care for and bathe their babies 
•    When pregnancies don’t go as planned, midwives will offer support and advice on stillbirth, miscarriage, termination, neonatal death and neonatal abnormalities. 

Where do midwives work?

  • Hospitals

    In hospitals, Midwives work in areas such as: Antenatal/Postnatal Ward, Birth Unit, Labour Ward, Clinics, Day Assessment and supporting consultant clinics (for women who need to see a midwife and consultant). Specialist midwives usually work in the main hospital setting with consultants and the rest of the multi-disciplinary team.

  • Community

    In the community, midwives work in GP surgeries, health centres and stand-alone midwifery units. They will undertake clinics, see patients antenatally and postnatally and attend homebirths.

  • Homes

    Midwives may be called to a family’s home if they have planned a homebirth and undertake some antenatal and postnatal care in the home including bookings at the beginning of pregnancy.

  • Education

    Qualified midwives may go on to teach midwifery or work in research. This could be in a higher education setting (university) or a combination of hospital and education settings.  Research is varied in midwifery, and researchers can also work from home, in other organisations such as NHSE or government bodies.  They may also travel nationally or internationally to undertake or present their research at conferences, or they may be based in other teams depending on the focus and topic of their research.


What is a Maternity Support Worker? 

Maternity Support Workers (MSWs) work under the supervision of a qualified midwife or nurse. They are sometimes also known as Maternity Healthcare Support Workers or Midwifery Assistants. Many Maternity Support Workers go on to study a midwifery degree or degree apprenticeship and become midwives 

Some of the key roles and responsibilities of a Maternity Support Worker includes: 

•    Helping to care for mothers and babies
•    Making routine observations (temperature, pulse, blood pressure, breathing, etc)
•    Updating records and other admin tasks
•    Educating parents one-to-one or in groups
•    Taking blood samples for testing
•    Ordering stationery and equipment
•    Preparing equipment
•    Promoting breastfeeding
•    Reporting problems to a registered midwife or nurse

What qualifications do you need?

  • Midwife
    • Midwifery degree approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council – Either undergraduate (first degree) postgraduate (secondary degree or diploma) or degree apprenticeship 
    • 5 GCSEs at grade 9-4/C or above - typically including English language or literature and a science subject
    • 2-3 A levels or equivalent qualifications such as GNVQ advanced level or NVQ level 3
  • Maternity Support Worker
    • 5 GCSEs or equivalent and some employers may also ask for a qualification in health and social care such as an NVQ
    • You may be offered the chance to study for qualifications such as: the NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services, the NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support an/or an apprenticeship as a healthcare support worker
    • You may be expected to have experience of working with children and families


Why study midwifery?

Midwifery could be for you if you want to:

  • Build impactful relationships with patients 
  • Work in a rewarding role
  • Support child development and parenthood 
  • Combine scientific knowledge and human connection 
  • Advocate for people and their families
  • Work in a high energy environment
  • Be assertive and develop your leadership and communication skills
  • Have good graduate prospects – midwives are in high demand 


Shareena and Sarang share their experiences in this short film