When you hear the term ‘midwife,’ you may think of it as an archaic term that we have moved past as a society. However, that couldn’t be more incorrect and many people are still learning how to become a midwife.
Midwives are some of the most reliable nurses in healthcare. Not only are midwives still around today, but they take on an astounding number of roles in the well-being and delivery of a child.
What Is a Midwife?
Above all, a midwife is a master of women’s health. These individuals assist women in the delivery of babies. After birth, midwives can also monitor the ongoing health of a newborn.
Midwives are dedicated professionals who have often earned their graduate degrees in nursing and certifications from the American Midwifery Certification Board. There are quite a few variants of midwives, and you have a lot of different choices to make when pursuing this career.
Let’s now examine the main duties, skills, and key aspects of how to become a midwife.
What Does a Midwife Do?
Helps with Labor and Delivery
Birthing a baby is most likely what you are familiar with when it comes to midwives. Midwives can help with the birthing process at birthing centers or someone’s home. Up to that point, midwives could have also been heavily involved with the pregnancy process.
Assists During a Pregnancy
Recruiting a midwife doesn’t begin during the labor and delivery process; a midwife usually helps women early on in their pregnancies. This includes assisting the mother-to-be with prenatal exams, tests, birth plans, and diet. Think of them as a pregnant woman’s personal nurse.
Essential Midwife Skills
Knowledge of Women’s Health
Since a midwife will be working diligently with pregnant women to make sure their labor and delivery go according to plan, midwives need to know the ins and outs of healthcare. Midwives should have good working relationships with individual doctors, like an obstetrician (OB), to better assist in pregnancies. Midwives need to know what to do after labor and delivery are finished, often coaching families to care for a newborn properly.
Great Communication Skills
To be an effective midwife, you need to communicate with the woman you are helping. This is an extraordinary (and often nerve-wracking) experience for expecting mothers. You will be a valuable outlet for someone who needs birthing knowledge, and you will be a source of familiarity and comfort.
A Strong Background in Nursing
Since nurse-midwives are some of the highest-paid nurses in the United States, it comes as no surprise that a midwife needs to have a strong nursing background. Along with being a licensed nurse, nurse-midwives typically need to hold their bachelor’s degree before entering a nurse-midwifery program.
Midwife Salaries and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, midwives in the United States earn a median salary of $108,810 per year.
If you have any misgivings about the longevity of a midwife career, think again. Nurse-midwives, along with nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners, are some of the fastest-growing occupations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the occupation will grow by a truly astounding 45 percent. This means there will always be a need for nurse-midwives. If you put in the work to become a nurse-midwife, you could make a healthy living.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Midwife?
Depending on what your degree program or continuing education program looks like, it could take about seven to eight years. Nurses need to go a step further than just a bachelor’s degree and some experience.
Future nurse-midwives will earn their bachelor’s, gain experience, get their graduate degree from reputable programs, and pass their certification exam.
How to Become a Midwife: A Step by Step Guide
Here are the essential steps in the process of how to become a midwife.
Step 1: Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
This is where you start your nurse-midwife journey. You have a few options at this stage. Since there are a few nurse-midwives variants, this is the time to decide what a good path will be. There are a ton of options for a solid bachelor’s degree in nursing. You could become a certified nurse-midwife, where there is no need to become a registered nurse. Or, you can go all-in and become an RN to bolster your future nurse-midwife credentials.
Step 2: Get Nursing Experience
Future nurse-midwives need to be extremely familiar with healthcare, preferably women’s health. Even if you choose to forego a registered nurse path, you still need to prove you have extensive knowledge and real-world experience. Nurses need to gain invaluable experience in private practices, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings.
Step 3: Get Your Graduate Degree
Midwives are some of the highest-qualified nurses in the United States. After earning multiple degrees in nursing, the midwife needs to get their certification in a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). This accreditation board ensures that whichever program you choose has the high standards required of a nurse-midwife.
Step 4: Pass Your Certification Exam and Join The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)
Now it’s time to get certified by The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). To pass the certification exam, the participant must complete a challenging but fair test consisting of multiple-choice questions.
These different questions cover a few main areas of women’s health:
- Well Woman/GYN
- Women’s Health/Primary Care
Joining The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) offers midwives new and old educational resources to better complete their jobs to the best of their abilities. This is the ultimate governing body of everything in a nurse-midwife’s career.
Should You Become a Midwife?
Yes. If you are interested in health care and women’s health, becoming a certified nurse-midwife could be an enriching career path.
What is the difference between a certified nurse-midwife and a licensed midwife?
A certified nurse-midwife doesn’t need to be a registered nurse, while licensed midwives need to have RN experience. Becoming a certified nurse-midwife can be a fantastic option for those who have a bachelor’s degree in the health care field but aren’t registered nurses.
What is a birth center?
Birth centers are unique locations staffed by midwives and other healthcare professionals to help women give birth. It is often a home-like environment to maximize comfort for pregnant women and includes both mother and child amenities.
Can midwives order the same tests as doctors?
Nurse-midwives have many of the same liberties as doctors have when taking care of patients. One of the chief capabilities of a nurse-midwife is to order the applicable tests for expecting mothers. They can perform pap smears, mammograms, and perform various screenings to ensure that a woman’s health is in top shape.
Can I see a nurse-midwife if I’m not even pregnant?
Yes. Nurse-midwives don’t merely help a woman go through labor and delivery. They also offer valuable advice to those looking to become pregnant, evaluate someone’s health, and more.