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While working in midwifery can be challenging, there are specific reasons why midwives gravitate towards and stay in the discipline, ANMF Federal Professional Officer Naomi Riley says.

“I think what keeps people there is a motivation and a drive to make a difference for women and young families,” Ms Riley says, adding that this will evolve across a midwife’s career.

“To stay in the career, you need passion, determination, a lot of self-reflection and a continued fire to advocate for women.”

There are nearly 35,000 midwives across Australia, several thousand of whom are also dually listed as registered nurses by AHPRA.

Ms Riley says someone’s desire to become a midwife can be fuelled by a number of reasons including, personal experiences, interests and personality traits. If thinking about entering the profession here is what you need to know.

Multiple pathways

Midwifery can be studied as an undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification.

Ms Riley says it’s possible to complete a standalone midwifery degree (3 years of study), a midwifery degree  alongside a nursing degree (taking the degree from three years to four years), or registered nurses can complete a 12 to 18-month post-graduate qualification..

Doulas, birth attendants, and health professionals from other areas who want to work as a midwife, will need to complete a three or four year degree.

Understanding the demands of your work place

While there are lots of good reasons to practice as a midwife, Ms Riley urges people to consider the aspects of the work that you don’t necessarily think about when you picture being part of such a special time in other peoples’ lives.

“The complexities of what a midwife does, beyond what it might look like they do, can sometimes be overwhelming for students” Ms Riley explains.

“I think that that’s probably the biggest disconnect, the expectations versus the reality.”

Having said this, midwives care for women and families throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. This care is provided in hospitals and in the community through public and private providers and organisations.

Thus there are many opportunities for midwives to find an area of practice and a way of practising that suits their interests and balances the more challenging aspects of the profession.

Speak to professionals in the field

Ms Riley recommends to work out if midwifery is for you to speak with practising midwives or students.

She says there are a variety of ways to access people who are either studying or practising midwifery, whether that is through a university open day, contacting educators on campus, accessing a professional association, or simply by speaking to someone working in the profession.

“I think talking to people is by far the best way to tell if a nursing or midwifery profession is for you than any kind of advertising,” Ms Riley says.

For more information on the requirements to become a midwife, and maintain your registration on an ongoing basis can be found at the website of the Nursing and Midwifery Board.