Wednesday 18 May 2016

Student Midwives: Coping With the Pressure

This piece discusses the journey student midwives go through during their process of becoming fully qualified and how to cope with the pressures the training entails.


Studying with a view to succeed in any career can be daunting, but for those training to become a midwife - a role of huge responsibility, but also great reward - the pressure can seem all the greater. However, it needn't be so. While studying to be a midwife can be extremely difficult, it can also be great fun, and overcoming the challenges it presents will stand you in good stead as you progress through your career.

Getting Your Qualifications 

To become a midwife, you are required to complete a Nursing and Midwifery Council-approved three-year midwifery degree. The course leads to registration with the council, and thus you become a registered midwife. As with all courses, it is not intended to be easy. Rather, it serves to prepare you for what to expect once you qualify. Completing the course may be tough, but remember it is this way for a reason, and if you're having difficulty it is likely that your fellow students are too. So try not to worry too much - learning to be organised, efficient and, importantly, in control of your emotions, is all part of becoming a midwife. 

Studying to be a midwife can pose unique problems, and it is totally understandable - it's even to be expected - that you might struggle to balance all your responsibilities. Indeed, learning about midwifery is not simply intended to help you pass an exam, it is intended to help you make the right choices when it really matters in the real world. Very few roles provide the job satisfaction that helping to deliver a new life into the world can bring, and very few bring the same challenges. 

If you are having difficulty with your course, remember that people are around to help. Everyone knows that a midwife degree is difficult and your classmates, friends, tutors and family, not to mention student support services, can help you through. Don't be afraid to ask for help and don't assume you're the only one who knows what it's like to go through what you're going through - chances are a lot of others are too.

Training and Development 

Being a midwife demands certain key skills. The ability to inspire trust and confidence, excellent people skills, patience and calmness under pressure are just some of the traits of a successful midwife. Don't worry if you think you don't possess all of these just yet; this is what your course and subsequent training is for. 

You'll be required to meet the Nursing and Midwifery Council's post-registration education and practice standards - otherwise known as PREP - and to continue to meet the continuing professional development (CPD) standard. Rather than viewing these as obstacles to be overcome, consider them an opportunity to hone your skills and become the best midwife you can possibly be. 

Wendy Dudley, who has almost 20 years' experience as a midwife, explains that while midwifery training can be difficult and the hours stressful, the support of friends and family can make a real difference, providing the support you need to not only help with training, but also the mental support to keep you going. She says it is important that those close to you understand what you are going through, adding: "The training certainly would put pressure on a relationship and friends and family need to be aware of the importance of time management." 

Combating other pressures

The role of a midwife is unique not least because of the great responsibility that accompanies it. The pressure of bringing a baby safely into the world is immense, but so too is the reward. Midwives, as with any professional, are not immune from making mistakes. However, the training you go through reduces the likelihood of this happening. What's more, any mistakes may well be down to factors out of your control, such as staffing and time. 

Ms Dudley notes that while the job is very tough and never allows you to fully 'switch off', it is, ultimately, extremely rewarding. She says: "The nature of midwifery, and any career where you provide care, is that you don't focus on yourself. People who are good at this job need to be needed, and there is a lot of reward received from the job.

"There are not many jobs that when before you come home someone will take your hand and say 'I couldn't do this without you'. These women go from scared to happy and you get the credit for it. So, it's hugely rewarding and on the ground, that's your feedback and job satisfaction."

The Midwifery Qualifications, Training and Requirements infographic from JMW Solicitors explains what it takes to become a midwife and highlights the struggle every midwife goes through to get there. 

The piece is part of a wider campaign that questions whether midwives are receiving the support they need. It also looks at the role of a midwife, the day-to-day challenges they face and the various external pressures currently impacting upon the profession. 


  1. Very helpful. Thank you! I am applying to midwifery for the fourth time in Canada. Its not easy, but I think you really have to understand what you're getting into! I believe it is all about the journey when becoming a midwife.

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