How To Become A Midwife In Australia: A Complete Guide

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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?

 

Midwives undergo specialised training in nursing and Midwifery, enabling them to provide holistic care to their patients. They help pregnant women through all pregnancy stages, i.e., before they conceive until after birth.

 

As a Midwife, you may expect to provide three primary services such as:

 

  • Preconception care

  • Pregnancy care

  • Delivery and labour coaching

  • Postpartum care

  • Family planning

  • Medication prescribing

  • Treatment and counselling for STDs

  • Disease prevention and management

  • Primary care

 

As part of their services, Midwife perform the following duties in Australia:

 

  • Perform routine delivery of babies. They may offer additional assistance during birthing, such as with a vacuum or forceps. 

  • Perform various health care services related to pregnancy and other conditions impacting women's reproductive systems. 

  • Offer preventive education and counselling to expectant and new mothers women relating to the fertility, birthing process, breastfeeding, pregnancy health, exercise, nutrition, and infant care.

  • Give women annual gynaecological tests such as ultrasounds, breast examinations, pap smears, preventative care, and contraception, usually without complications.

  • Carry out screening for women for sexually transmitted diseases and vaginal infections. 

  • Assess progress and identify warning signs of abnormal and possibly abnormal pregnancies that need a referral to an Obstetrician.

  • Supervise the condition of foetuses and women during pregnancy throughout labour.

  • Conduct health education seminars and learning sessions in reproductive health, preparation for parenthood, antenatal education, and breastfeeding.

  • Provide care and management of pregnancy and birth. 

  • Advise women on childcare, nutrition, and family planning.

  • Manage and coordinate care with the physician during labour and delivery.

 

 

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 Are The Study Pathways To Become A Midwife In Australia?

 

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

 

  • One option is to get a Bachelor of Nursing degree and then pursue a postgraduate course in midwifery.

  • 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 is having 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, 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. How Long Do You Have To Study To Be A Midwife In Australia?

 

To become a Midwife in Australia, you must complete an Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council-approved midwifery degree that leads to registration as a Midwife. One of these courses is a Bachelor of Midwifery, which takes three years of full-time study.

 

Alternatively, if you are a registered nurse with a nursing degree, you can complete a postgraduate qualification like a Graduate Diploma of Midwifery or Master of Midwifery Practice. These courses usually take 12 to 18 months of full-time study.

 

It takes at least three years to become a midwife without being a Registered Nurse or four years if you complete a Dual Nursing and Midwifery degree. Registered Nurses may enhance their skillset with a postgraduate Midwifery qualification of 1 to 2 years.

 

 

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

 

Midwives are vital in any healthcare team. They work in various settings in almost every state in Australia. Most entry-level midwives work in birthing centres and hospitals to help deliver deliveries and care for new mothers and their babies.

 

Nurse-midwives are experts in women's health and work in prenatal, post-natal, and well-baby clinics.

 

Other work environments include:
 

  • Postnatal and neonatal units

  • Maternity units in private and public hospitals

  • Private midwifery practice

  • Labour and birth units

  • Birth centres

  • Caseload/midwifery group practice

  • Homebirths

  • Hospital-based clinics

  • Group practices or offices

  • Outpatient clinics or facilities

  • Research Centres involving nurse-midwives

  • University medical centres

  • Private homes of patients

 

 

Midwives have the opportunity or may have 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.

 

Many midwives work as consultants or 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.

 

 

9. 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.

 

A midwife's salary depends on various factors such as:

 

  • Their experience level 

  • Their area of specialisation 

  • The organisation they work for

  • The level of responsibility they undertake

  • The region they work in

 

If you are starting your midwifery career, you can earn around AU $ 33.26 per hour in Australia. It may seem like a modest and comfortable living wage.

 

Your salary will increase as you build experience and progress in your midwifery profession. Midwives with 5-9 years of experience can expect to earn around AU$ 38.74 per hour.

 

Senior midwives work in research, education, managerial roles, or supervisory positions overseeing the operations of a birthing centre, or a team of midwives can earn more substantial salaries. With an experience between 10 and 19 years in Midwifery, you can expect to earn AU$ 44.11 per hour in Australia.

 

Experienced midwives specialising in a specific midwifery segment, such as high-risk pregnancies or neonatal care, may draw even higher salaries.

 

Furthermore, working in high-paying locations can also increase your pay package. If you want to know where midwives get paid the most in Australia, according to Indeed, Canberra is the highest-paying city that pays $88,446 annually on average.

 

On top of the annual salary, most midwives in Australia also receive extra perks and benefits, including:

 

  • Paid parental leave

  • Flexible working arrangements

  • Professional development opportunities

 

 

10. What is The Difference Between a Midwife and a Maternity Nurse?

 

 

Midwives

 

  • They are health professionals trained in delivery to ensure a successful birth. They support expecting women before, during, and after labour and delivery. Some midwives even deliver babies in a birthing centre or home birth setting.

  • Midwives are often required when a healthy woman with a low-risk pregnancy gives birth at home, in a birthing centre, or a hospital room.

  • Midwives need a bachelor's degree in Midwifery to pursue this role. They need not be Registered Nurses to work in this profession. 

  • The salary range of Midwives in Australia is between AU$30.60 to AU$46.49 per hour. Their average salary is AU$ 36.71 per hour.  

 

 

Maternity Nurses

 

  • They provide care for women after they deliver their babies. Their main job is teaching a new mother about caring for her new baby. Some even provide support to women during their labour and delivery stages. 

  • To become a Maternity Nurse, you must be a Registered Nurse (RN) and complete additional education in Midwifery, i.e., a bachelor's in Midwifery. 

  • The salary range of Maternity nurses (RN) in Australia is between AU$ 28.97 to AU$ 50.92 per hour. Their average salary is AU$ 37.00 per hour.  

 

 

11. Is Midwifery a Good Career in Australia?

 

Midwifery is an emotionally rewarding career that provides care and support to women and their families before, during, and after a baby's birth.

 

The accessibility of midwifery services is a basis for high-quality maternal care. They positively impact several maternal care outcomes, such as:

 

  • Reductions in neonatal and maternal mortality

  • Better psychosocial outcomes 

  • Decline in infections

  • Quick discharge for newborn babies

 

Midwifery is a highly valued and specialised profession in Australia. The country's rising population has a growing demand for skilled midwives.

 

Below are some advantages that make the profession worth pursuing:

 

  • You help women through a critical phase in their lives. 

  • It is a recession-proof career that offers high job security.

  • You can find plenty of full-time/part-time work opportunities in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, birthing centres, maternity homes, research firms, and more.  

  • It is a well-respected and trusted profession that allows you to make a real difference in the lives of your patients.

  • You will be an essential part of the healthcare community. 

  • You can be proud of yourself as working in this demanding profession is not everyone's cup of tea.  

  • It is gratifying to guide future parents through their initial struggles as a parent and educate new parents about childbirth and parenting.

  • The feeling you get by helping bring a new baby into the world is indescribable. 

  • Seeing a new life come into the world and experiencing the beginnings of a family is an incredible experience. As a Midwife, you get to witness such moments every day.

  • The role gives you an excellent opportunity to form relationships with families.

 

Overall, being a Midwife is a fascinating and fulfilling career. Like any career, the profession also has some cons you must be aware of when pursuing it.

 

The learning route to becoming a Midwife is rigorous and involves extensive training. Also, the job can be challenging both physically and emotionally. However, if you are keen on improving women's lives and being a part of their life-changing experiences, then a career as a Midwife can be enriching.

 

 

12. Is There Demand for Midwives in Australia?

 

Yes. There is a high demand for Midwives in Australia, especially in remote and rural regions with limited healthcare facilities.

 

According to Labour Market Insights, the job outlook for nurse-midwives is in a positive direction for the next couple of years.

 

The government projects a massive increase in job growth rate by 21.6% and the creation of 3,400 jobs within the Midwifery profession between November 2021 and November 2026.

 

 

13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

 

How Many Hours Do Midwives Work a Week in Australia?

 

According to Labour Market Insights, around 39% of employed Midwives work full-time for an average of 42 hours per week.

 

 

What is The Average Age of Midwives?

 

The average age of Midwives in Australia is 45 years, with most between 45 and 54 years.

 

 

What is a Typical Nurse Midwife's Work Schedule Like?

 

Midwives primarily work in a hospital or clinical environment. Some also work in private practices. The exact work schedule of a midwife depends on where they work.

 

Midwives in clinical settings usually work 8 hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday to Friday. However, you may expect variations in work schedules based on the patient caseload and employer's needs. Though midwives don't work on weekends, it varies between employers.

 

Midwives employed in a hospital often work 12-hour shifts. They mainly require to be on call to attend to patients who go into labour or to provide immediate medical care related to delivery or pregnancy. They usually need nontraditional hours, including weekends, evenings, and holidays.

 

 

What Does a Midwife Do During Delivery?

 

Midwives play an important during labour and delivery. Their primary function at this time is to:

 

  • Offer care and support to the pregnant woman 

  • Monitor the health of both the pregnant woman and the baby throughout labour

  • Provide pain relief (however, this is done by an anaesthetist)

  • Enable women to optimise psychological processes to give birth. 

  • Update the obstetrician about the woman's progress before calling them in for the birth.

  • Provide support to help the woman give birth to the baby if the labour is uncomplicated. 

 

 

Do Midwives Look After Babies?

 

Yes. The role of a midwife continues even after the baby is born. They provide care and monitor the health of the woman and the newborn throughout the hospital stay to ensure both are recovering well.

 

Midwives may teach things to new mothers, such as breastfeeding, bathing their babies, changing nappies, and emotional support.

 

Midwives may also conduct newborn tests on the baby, provide pain relief or organise a doctor if any medical treatment is needed.

 

Midwives from a local Child and Family Health Centre will also make a home visit once the mother and the baby get discharged from the hospital. 

 

It is done mainly within two weeks of giving birth to check their recovery progress and to find if any additional advice or support is needed.

 

 

Can A Man Be a Midwife?

 

According to Labour Market Insights, Females constitute 98%, and only 2% of men comprise the workforce. 

 

Conventionally, Midwifery has been a women-dominated profession. Due to women's autonomy and expertise, aspiring male midwives often face barriers and resistance to entering this profession.

 

However, efforts have been made to encourage more men to pursue a midwifery career and enhance their representation.

 

Men can become certified midwives in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

 

 

How Common Are Midwives in Australia?

 

Midwives play a crucial role in healthcare, not just during labour but also in providing antenatal care, advice, support, and education for new families.

 

According to the government's Labour Market Insights, 21,400 midwives work in Australia. There is a high demand for Midwives in Australia, with the government and governing bodies cautioning of acute staffing shortages in nursing and Midwifery by 2025.

 

 

How Hard is Midwifery?

 

You must undergo extensive health care education and rigorous clinical training to become a Midwifery in Australia. You also require substantial experience providing holistic care to women to earn a comfortable living wage.

 

Entry into Midwifery is more competitive than nursing. The courses are vocational and lengthy, where you will be working and learning on placement for half of the year at 37.5 hours.

 

Additionally, you will have a lot of essays to write, clinical skills to showcase, and practice placement documents. Thus, if you aspire to this profession, you will need self-discipline, a hard-working attitude, and a willingness to self-learning.

 

 

What Are The Disadvantages of Being a Midwife?

 

Working as a Midwife, you may face the following challenges:

 

  • You will have an irregular schedule that could prevent you from living a healthy work-life balance.

  • You may experience emergencies during labour and awful birth outcomes that can be highly emotional.

  • The job involves risks as there are chances of getting prosecuted for malpractice.

  • You must work extended hours and always be on your toes to avoid mistakes while caring for your patients. It can leave you exhausted.

  • You must be prepared to rush to the hospital, even at night, to handle emergencies. It can shatter your advance plans.

  • Nurse-midwives working in the hospital at any position mostly work night shifts, weekends, and holidays, making it tough to run errands, shop for groceries and attend social gatherings.

  • You can't perform a caesarean delivery if your patient needs it. You will have to transfer your patient to a doctor while they are in labour. It may cause disappointment to be unable to perform an urgent c-section for a patient you cared for throughout the pregnancy.

  • You are not medically authorised to handle high-risk pregnancies and must pass your patient's care to a physician. 

  • Your job can be physically straining as you must be on your feet all day, moving patients and lifting heavy objects.

  • You may get exposed to viruses and bacteria that can make you ill. If that happens, there are higher chances that your close ones will also catch your infection. 

  • Your days can be stressful. You need quick reflexes to deal with urgencies that can arise anytime.

 

 

Is Midwifery A Stressful Job?

 

Midwifery services are a keystone of maternal care. However, the mental health of midwives is at risk in several work settings.

 

According to the National Library of Medicine, midwives often feel occupational stress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and burnout, due to distressing perinatal events.

 

These symptoms can pose health risks and cause midwives to take sick leave, leave their profession, or suffer impaired quality of life. It may even discourage existing and aspiring midwives from practising Midwifery.

 

 

What Do You Need To Be a Midwife?

 

Midwives need hard and soft skills to help prepare and care for patients both during and after their child's birth:

 

 

Hard Skills

 

  • Sound medical knowledge to deliver the newborn safely and care for the woman giving birth.

  • Able to understand and practice within legal restrictions.  

  • Scientific and mathematical abilities to administer medicine to a patient during labour

 

 

Soft Skills

 

  • Passion to positively impact women's lives

  • Clear and concise communication to explain medical procedures and critical birth information to patients in labour in easy language and update assisting medical professionals

  • Empathy

  • Mental, physical, and emotional strength

  • Observational skills to notice problems and find solutions before they become an emergency.

  • Patience to withstand a problematic situation, explain medical procedures several times to the patient or family members, get through a long and challenging labour, etc.

  • Dedication to women's care 

 

 

What Is The ATAR Score for Midwifery?

 

You need an ATAR between 75 to 95 to gain admission to a Midwifery course in Australia. Below are the ATAR requirements for top universities in Australia:

 

 

 

How Much Do Maternity Nurses Make in Australia?

 

According to Pay Scale, Maternity Nurses' salary in Australia ranges between A$28.97 to A$50.92 per hour. Their average hourly pay is AU$37.00 in 2023.

 

 

Highest Paying Cities for Maternity Nurses in Australia are:

 

  • Albury: AU$169,928 per year

  • Melton: AU$169,108 per year

  • Frankston: AU$165,332 per year

  • Narre Warren: AU$165,312 per year

  • Cardinia: AU$164,676 per year

  • Melbourne: AU$158,120 per year

  • Bendigo: AU$154,169 per year

  • Ballarat: AU$149,398 per year

  • Canberra: AU$143,571 per year

 

 

Top Employers for Maternity Nurses in Australia Include:

 

  • Moreland City Council: AU$192,636 per year

  • Moonee Valley City Council: AU$190,390 per year

  • City of Whittlesea: AU$182,718 per year

  • Ramsay Health Care: AU$178,118 per year

  • City of Darebin: AU$173,733 per year

 

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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