Midwives often describe their job as 'privileged'. The role they have in preparing women for the delivery of new life makes them a vital presence during all stages of pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period.
Midwives work in all health care settings; for example, in the maternity unit of a large general hospital, in smaller stand-alone maternity units, in private maternity hospitals, in group practices, at birth centres, with general practitioners and in the community.
The majority of midwives practice within the NHS, working with other midwives or as part of a small team, with other health care professionals such as obstetricians, neonatologists, anaesthetists, general practitioners, health visitors and support staff. There are also a small group of midwives who practice within social enterprise schemes.
Once registered, midwives can use their qualification to work in other health care settings such as special baby care units (SCBU). Some midwives become specialists in areas such as diabetes or public health and perinatal mental health. There are also opportunities to work in research and education.
Midwives can be found practising in many areas and frequently go on to develop their professional expertise and education to higher levels.
Midwives provide woman-centred integrated care, which requires them to work shifts over seven days of the week, including day and night duty. Many midwives have on-call rotas and work both within a hospital and community settings such as birth centres, midwifery led units and a woman’s home.