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How to become a midwife

To become a midwife in the NHS, you must complete a pre-registration degree programme accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

What is a midwife?

Midwives provide support to women before, during and after childbirth, making sure babies receive the care they need at the earliest stages of life.

As experts in childbirth, the role of a midwife can be demanding and carries plenty of responsibility.

Starting your career as a midwife

Choosing subjects at school

If you're interested in a career as a midwife, useful school subjects include: 

  • Human Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • English
  • Maths 

Speak to your guidance teacher or careers adviser about subjects offered at your school.

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some healthcare experience by doing a work placement or volunteering. You’ll get training, increase your knowledge, and learn new skills. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland. 

Education and training pathway

At college, you can do an HNC in Healthcare Practice, which could lead to an undergraduate pre-registration midwifery degree.

Pre-registration midwifery undergraduate degree programme

In Scotland, the following universities offer undergraduate programmes in midwifery, approved by the NMC:

  • Edinburgh Napier University
  • Robert Gordon University
  • University of the West of Scotland

Pre-registration undergraduate programmes usually take 3 years of full-time study.

Widening access

Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. If you’re an adult with few or no qualifications, you could get into higher education through the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP). Many universities also provide access programmes to help you get the undergraduate degree entry qualifications you need. 

Pre-registration midwifery postgraduate degree programme

Some universities offer a postgraduate masters-level route for pre-registration midwifery. To meet NMC standards, these programmes take 3 years.

Course search

Search for college or university programmes on My World of Work.

Get to know the role

One of the most important aspects of the job is making sure mothers and their babies have a positive experience. You’ll care for women from lots of different backgrounds, with different needs. 

You would help women and their families learn about pregnancy and the processes of childbirth. You’d also explain what will happen and discuss any choices that need to be made. 

In straightforward pregnancies, you would be responsible for planning, managing and delivering care. If a woman has a complicated pregnancy or experiences a miscarriage or stillbirth, you would take on the role of care coordinator. You’d make sure the necessary support from the appropriate health and social care services is provided.

As a midwife, you’ll need to be able to review clinical information and make decisions about care. This could include providing support and advice about:

  • miscarriage
  • stillbirth
  • terminations
  • neonatal abnormalities or death

Midwives at all levels need to show leadership. Students and maternity support workers often look to junior midwives for guidance and support.

Tasks include: 

  • give pregnant women advice on lifestyle choices, such as healthy eating or help to stop smoking
  • plan, deliver, and review midwifery care during pregnancy and childbirth
  • run antenatal classes
  • monitor the baby during labour and birth
  • provide postnatal care for women and newborns

You'll need these skills:

  • caring
  • teamwork
  • communicating
  • problem-solving
  • critical thinking
  • leadership

Midwives work with other health and social care professionals, including: 

  • doctors
  • maternity support workers
  • neonatal nurses
  • health visitors
  • social workers

You could work in: 

  • antenatal, labour, and postnatal wards
  • neonatal units
  • health centres
  • people's homes

Midwives also work in midwife-led units providing antenatal, labour, and postnatal care to women and their newborns.

Learning and development

Healthcare is constantly improving and technology evolving. The needs of the population are changing, so you’ll up to date with health care issues and practice.

Once registered as a midwife, there are ongoing requirements for education and skills development. You’ll also have lots of opportunities to go further and learn more.

In your first year as a newly qualified midwife, you’ll get extra support and guidance through the Flying Start programme.

Career progression

In the NHS, you may choose to be a midwife throughout your career, keeping up to date through continuing professional development. However, taking extra courses and workplace learning could lead to progression through the career pathway to senior, advanced or consultant level.

A number of initiatives have been developed to support midwives as they move forward in their careers, including:

  • Effective Practitioner
  • Early Clinical Career Fellowships
  • Leading Better Care
  • Scottish Multi-Professional Maternity
  • Development Programme
  • Leadership and Management Zone on Turas Learn

During your career, you could become a senior charge midwife. You would make sure the highest standards of care are delivered in the way in which service users and the wider public expect. This includes motivating and empowering staff to place dignity, privacy and compassion at the centre of their practice. 

At higher levels, you may lead a team of midwives, a whole department or service.


Revalidation is a process that midwives need to follow in order to maintain their registration with the NMC every 3 years.

It is an ongoing process throughout your career as a midwife and aims to:

  • promote good practice
  • maintain and strengthen public confidence in the profession

Learn more about NMC revalidation.

Professional bodies

When you become a qualified midwife, you must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to work in the NHS.

Find out more about the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

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