How To Become A Midwife In Australia: A Complete Guide

Students want to know how they can become midwives in Australia and how long it takes.


Are you interested in becoming a midwife in Australia? Midwifery is one of the most satisfying jobs in the health sector; after all, you get to play a massive role in bringing a new life into the world.


It is becoming a more in-demand profession in Australia. The value of midwifery care and the vital impact midwives have on new mothers' physical and emotional health have become more well-recognised.


There was a time when it was necessary to become certified as a nurse before you could consider becoming a midwife. However, this is not required anymore. You can enrol in a three-year Bachelor of Midwifery degree and pursue a midwife career without having to study any other nursing course.


In this blog, you will learn about becoming a midwife in Australia, including how long it takes, midwifery courses, qualifications, salary, and more.



1. What Is A Midwife?


A midwife is a professional health worker who completes a midwifery course and obtains the required qualifications to practise with the appropriate regulatory authority.


A midwife's role is not just to help women give birth. Midwives work with women during labour, pregnancy, and postpartum to provide essential support, guidance, and care. 


While this is a critical aspect of their job, midwives also assist women during delivery, pregnancy, and the first few years of parenting.



2. What Do Midwives Do?


A midwife is a healthcare provider specialising in caring for mothers and babies throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum (the first six weeks after the delivery). 


A midwife often receives her training from an experienced midwife through an apprenticeship program. She may or may not have any professional medical background or training.


An individual who has completed midwifery training is also called a lay midwife. You will find several midwifery training programs in Australia that last from one to three years and help you get a technical certificate.


The laws governing midwives differ from state to state. Some states ban the practice of midwifery, while others highly control and regulate it. Some states even require midwives to get a licence (LM) before practising. 


The position of LMs or lay midwives is very different from CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives), who specialise in midwifery and are advanced, registered nurse practitioners.


In most cases, licenced and lay midwives offer care and attend births at a free-standing birth centre or patient's home. Most medical offices and hospitals do not allow these midwives to work on their premises.


Furthermore, a midwife's malpractice insurance may differ from a physician's. Also, it is crucial to note that medical insurance does not usually cover the services of a licenced or lay midwife. Still, they typically charge a fraction of what a hospital would.


The role of a midwife is to examine the patient and her pregnancy and determine whether the birth centre or home birth is safe for the patient. If a patient is "high-risk," she must be immediately referred to a doctor for further treatment.


Additionally, the midwife examines the woman for any abnormalities throughout her pregnancy. She looks after the mother during labour and delivery and ensures that the baby is delivered safely. After the birth, the midwife checks the mother, examines the infant, aids with breastfeeding, and heals any lacerations.


The midwife usually visits the mother and the newborn the day after birth to evaluate their health and even during the six weeks postpartum period. A midwife must stay committed to women's care and practice within the legal framework.



3. Major Duties and Tasks of a Midwife


  • Observe, track, document, report, and assess the care given to women and their newborns, including their response to treatment.

  • Detect any complications that may develop for the baby and mother.

  • Provide information and answer every question the pregnant woman and her family ask about treatment and care.

  • Arrange for relevant consultations and referrals and, if required, take emergency actions.

  • Offer clinical midwifery support and care for women, their families, and babies.

  • As needed, provide direct supervision to other health professionals who may engage in treating mothers and newborns.

  • Administer medication to babies and their mothers as required.

  • Collaborate with other healthcare experts as part of a multidisciplinary team to offer the best care for pregnant women, newborns, and families.

  • Contribute to the clinical training of students studying midwifery, medicine, and other fields.

  • Prepare women for surgical births and offer post-surgery care.

  • Provide guidance and assistance during the intrapartum, preconception, postnatal and antenatal periods.

  • Conduct health education seminars and classes on topics such as reproductive health, parenting preparation, antenatal education, and breastfeeding to enhance the health of mothers and newborns.

  • Provide advice on childcare, nutrition, and family planning.


Note: A midwife's role varies, and every day is different depending on whether you're attending a delivery or performing antenatal, prenatal, or postnatal consultations.



4. What Study Pathway Can You Undertake To Become A Midwife In Australia?


To become a registered midwife, you can choose the following pathways:



  • The alternative option is to finish a Bachelor of Midwifery in Australia (three years full-time or the equivalent part-time).


  • You can also obtain a Master of Midwifery Practice or a Graduate Diploma in Midwifery. The duration of these courses is usually 12 to 18 months.


These degrees combine theoretical and practical training in various midwifery settings. They will help to understand the multiple areas of midwifery practice better. 


You must finish your HSC (High School Certificate) with the relevant subjects and have an adequate ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) or equivalent to apply for these programs.


Note: For more information on each university's entrance requirements, contact the UAC (Universities Admissions Centre). Most institutions require you to have study experience in Mathematics, English, and at least one science course.


You may need a First Aid Certificate in some situations. If you do not have an HSC, you must speak with the institution directly about additional entry options, including STAT (Special Tertiary Admissions Tests ) AND TPC (Tertiary Preparation Courses).


The application procedure may differ if you want to complete nursing and enter into a midwifery program.


To practise as a midwife, you must apply to the NMBA (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia). Midwives must complete 20 hours of professional development and renew their registration annually.


Midwives who are also nurses might consider specialising in Maternal Child Health Nursing.



5. What Qualifications Do You Need To Study Midwifery In Australia?


In general, you must complete Year 12 to continue your education in midwifery. However, suppose you are a mature-age student. In that case, the entry criteria to higher education courses may vary, depending on the university you apply to and other circumstances.


Before beginning your undergraduate midwifery degree, you also need to earn a senior first aid certificate that includes CPR.


Furthermore, you will get tested for Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV, as well as other blood-borne diseases. You cannot complete the clinical portion of the course if your tests are positive, and, as a result, you won't be allowed to register as a midwife.


You also need to undertake a Police Check before starting your degree. It is a mandatory requirement for the program's clinical portion.


Once you complete your Bachelor's degree and successfully register with the NMBA, you can work in various settings. These include neonatal care units, private or public hospitals, research, community hospitals, teaching, rural and remote health, and even aid organisations.


As you can see, the midwifery field offers a variety of study options. So whether you choose to study part-time, full-time, or take the accelerated opportunity, you will always find an option that meets your needs.



6. Essential Skills and Qualities Required To Become A Midwife


Becoming a midwife requires a wide range of personal skills and qualities. However, the following are some of the most important ones required:


  • The ability to demonstrate compassion and empathy to their patients is one of the most crucial skills a midwife should possess. When their patients are in severe pain, they must comfort and console them while safely delivering the baby. In particular, as a midwife, you must guide and support new mothers.


  • Midwives deal with plenty of women and their families from different diversities. Therefore, being able to relate and get along with all kinds of individuals is essential to becoming a successful midwife. Always remember to be respectful and aware of the social and cultural environment in which each birth takes place.


  • Another essential attribute has a strong stomach. If you are squeamish with body fluids and blood, midwifery may not be your profession. Giving birth differs considerably from what they show in the movies or television. The childbirth process might entail a lot of vomit, blood, and even faeces. If it makes you sick to your stomach, you should consider whether you can handle yourself in such a situation.


While midwifery may be a highly gratifying and uplifting profession, there will always be a part of it that is unpleasant and disturbing. Therefore, midwives must have a certain amount of mental and emotional strength to deal with this aspect of the work.



7. What Are The Employment Opportunities For A Midwife in Australia?


Midwives usually work in the following areas and settings:


  • Postnatal and neonatal units

  • Maternity units in private and public hospitals

  • Private midwifery practice

  • Labour and birth units

  • Antenatal clinics

  • Practice with obstetricians (doctors)

  • Community-based health service

  • Birth centres

  • Universities

  • Childbirth and parent education

  • Caseload/midwifery group practice


Midwives have the opportunity or may be required to work in remote and rural regions. They can also have their independent practice, work with a doctor in private practice, or work with other midwives. International aid organisations and the Royal Flying Doctor Service both hire midwives.


A large number of midwives work as consultants and instructors and are self-employed. Midwifery is a rapidly expanding profession in Australia, providing several opportunities for midwives to work in clinical settings, including research and teaching


Midwives can advance to managerial or supervisory roles with experience and, sometimes, additional training.



8. How Much Does A Midwife Earn In Australia?


According to Payscale, the midwife's salary in Australia ranges between AU$54,000 and AU$94,000 per annum. The midwife's compensation may vary as per the number of patients, skills, experience, location, or gender.


Now that you know how to become a midwife in Australia, you are ready to explore multiple career choices in this field and have a successful career in midwifery.


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