Primarily responsible for providing care, support, and assistance to women and their families throughout their pregnancy, labor, and beyond, there are many reasons why thousands of people across the country go into midwifery.
If you’re a compassionate and caring individual, being there every step of the way to provide excellent clinical care and health education to the mother and her family may be suited to you. While there are credentials that you will need to gain before qualifying as a midwife, there are certain attributes that you must possess too. With that in mind, here are 8 personal characteristics and skills required to work in midwifery.
Excellent People Skills
When helping women throughout their pregnancy, it’s vital that you have excellent people skills. Women from all walks of life have babies, so you will need to be on hand to provide reassurance and professional support to a diverse mix of individuals throughout some of the most highly challenging and emotionally intense periods. Effective interpersonal skills help you appear more relatable, demonstrate social awareness, and most importantly, build trust between you and the patient. One of the biggest fears that women have in life is giving birth, so showing that you’re approachable and relatable from the beginning can help reduce patients’ stress levels.
Good Observation and Communication
As a midwife, you will not only be communicating with women but also their partners and families too. To succeed in this role, you must have excellent observation and communication skills. The more experience you gain in the field, the better you will become at identifying causes for concern. Some women may be more reluctant to open up than others, so it’s your job to spot any problems from the beginning. Being able to communicate effectively with patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals will help build trust and respect.
Ability to Answer Questions
Whether the patient you are treating is about to have their first child, or they’ve been through the process before, it’s likely that they will have all sorts of questions that they need answered. To put their mind at ease, it’s your job as a midwife to know the ins and outs of your field, meaning you can address any questions and develop strategies to help ensure the women you treat are given the best level of care possible. Midwives tend to be the most frequent point of contact, so sharing your knowledge and skills and ensuring their needs are recognized by other members of the team is crucial.
Work as Part of a Team
If you’re interested in a career in midwifery, you need to understand that you will work alongside a multidisciplinary team to ensure the women you see receive excellent care and support during their course of pregnancy. Whether you engage with social workers, doctors, or health visitors, knowing how to work well as part of a team is critical for success. A healthy teamwork environment creates close-knit relationships with healthcare professionals, helping to ensure that you all work to the best of your ability.
Empathy and Compassion
Each day will be different when working as a midwife. While there will be some women who are calm and content during their pregnancy, others will be terrified about the prospect of giving birth. Whether you’ve given birth or not, putting yourself in their shoes and showing empathy and compassion for their situation can go a long way. The last thing you want is for your patient to feel tense and anxious, so understanding their point of view and doing everything in your power to help reduce stress levels is key.
When working as a midwife, there will be all sorts of different problems and situations you find yourself in. While there will be some situations that can be solved immediately, there will be other times where you need to think outside the box. Knowing how to problem solve will require you to rely on your clinical knowledge to help you objectively examine the situation. While we all want the best for our patients, there are times where the labor and delivery don’t go to plan, so in addition to knowing how to problem solve, you will need to make educated judgements on what strategies to take to ensure your patient is safe.
Ability to Teach
If your goal is to become a midwife, you will need to educate patients on how they and their baby can stay safe and protected during pregnancy. Many pregnant women and their partner will need education on strategies to stay healthy, as well as complications that they need to be aware of. There are other topics that you must address, such as caring for the baby and breastfeeding. While some topics may be straightforward to grasp, there are others that include a ton of medical information, so brushing up your knowledge and gaining the right credentials is critical. You can join a school for midwifery that teaches you the A-Z of the field, helping to boost confidence and self-esteem.
If the birth you are assisting in isn’t going to plan, how you conduct yourself throughout can make a huge difference. It’s vital that you stay calm and collected in order to do your job correctly, as well as keeping the patient relaxed. When women give birth, they need to solely focus on pushing effectively, so when in a stressful situation, keeping calm is a must. There are various settings that you may work in during your midwifery career, such as in a hospital or assisting a home birth. If you’re in the latter environment, you may not have all the resources you’re used to, so being able to adapt to work in different settings is key.
Once you have completed the mandatory training and education needed to qualify as a midwife, the characteristics and skills listed above can help you excel in the field and ensure you are providing high-quality care and support for women throughout their pregnancy.