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Questions about becoming a midwife

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#1 emmbop

Posted 09 February 2020 - 09:27 PM

Hi, I'm hoping to get some advice from people in the midwifery field.

I've been wanting to do midwifery for a while now. It's truly the only career that I've felt super passionate and excited about. I applied for the double degree at La Trobe a year ago but unfortunately didn't get in. Then, after spending many hours looking and applying for other pathways to midwifery, I decided to put it on hold because after reading a few things I became worried that shift work just wouldn't suit my family life. However, here I am again, unable to give up the idea of becoming a midwife so I was hoping for some feedback. My main concern is the instability of shift work with young kids. And also having to work Christmas and other holidays with a family. I just can't imagine having to miss Christmas morning when my kids are still young! I have a 22month old now, and planning on a couple more. My partner actually has an ideal job as he works from home and can essentially choose his hours (however he mostly needs to choose them and then stick to them, can't always be changing them day to day).

A couple of things that I've thought about recently: Casual bank - I wondered if anybody here does this. I wondered if I can work casually and be picky about my hours until kids are older and then I could decide to try and get a permanent FT/PT position.
The other was that I heard there are some more 'office hour' positions in the midwifery field, but I'm assuming they're limited and not super easy to get into?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

#2 littlepickle

Posted 09 February 2020 - 10:47 PM

Midwifery is an amazing profession that can lead to many options post qualification / experience.
- shift work is essential during training, graduate year and when working clinically. Whilst you have young children night shift can be the best option but highly depends on how well you can sleep during the day.
- Most clinical environments will expect that you work alternate Christmas days / Easter etc..
- with only 6 weeks annual leave a year you will be required to work school holidays.

Most casual pool’s at the hospitals will not take you on until you have a solid year post qualification of experience ( or the equivalent part time). Midwifery project roles require 3-5 years experience at a minimum unless you have another university qualification.

You sound as though you have a grasp on the reality of nursing/ midwifery and the impact it will have on your family. I have had a number of encounters with graduates who only want to work Monday- Friday 0700- 3.30 pm and expect Christmas / New Year off during their first year of work - it can be a shock when they realise that being part of a 24 hour service means everyone needs to rotate through the less desirable days/ times.

Despite all this being a midwife is the most fulfilling and anazing vocation in the world!!

#3 Kafkaesque

Posted 10 February 2020 - 09:09 AM

Shift work is part and parcel and if you aren’t prepared to miss special events then no it isn’t for you. Yes there are roles that are more business hours but they won’t be the delivering babies roles... think antenatal clinic.

As the PP said being casual you really need a good grounding and a level of experience so unlikely to be a realistic option for a few years after qualifying.

I’m nurse and did additional study to take on a community role that was business hours just because I found shift work with children so difficult.

#4 emmbop

Posted 10 February 2020 - 12:01 PM

Thanks for the reply, littlepickle.

Yep, I understand that no matter what I'll need to do a grad year which will likely be full time shift work. I kind of just consider that a continuation of the steps to becoming a qualified midwife, so I'd just have to make that year work. I was just curious to see if I could find an option for the time between my grad year and my kids being older that I feel comfortable with, or if I'm just going to have to put this off till kids are older and be one of the 50 year olds that finally goes back to study for their dream career!

#5 emmbop

Posted 10 February 2020 - 12:06 PM

Thanks for the response, Kafkaesque.

I wouldn't mind working in areas other than birth, such as antenatal, for a while. I think I like the sound of most areas of midwifery.

Good to know about the level of experience needed for casual work.

#6 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 10 February 2020 - 07:29 PM

I can't speak to midwifery, as I ditched the degree one year in, but I can give you a bit of a nurse perspective.

The hard slog of getting through uni and pracs whilst my kids were young was so worth it.. I was doing my grad year when they were in year 2, which was good because at least they were settled into school.

To be fair, shift work does allow you a bit of flexibility to do more things, like school events etc, if you can plan ahead. But at the same time, you have to be able to accept the likelihood of missing public holidays with your family. Sometimes that sucks. My grad year was full time and frankly, I think that's not great - I would have preferred to do 0.8 because it's a real baptism of fire and I was just about burned out by the end of it. I quickly cut back to part time.

The thing to factor in with midwifery is that there's an element of on call, especially in uni, when you have to log x amount of births, following women along for their entire pregnancy. That's a big part of why I didn't perservere with it, it just was impossible with my shift work as an RN, and my family life, even going down to part time work/part time uni.

I'm only three years into nursing, and I'm already so lucky to have a lovely day unit job, working in a really specialized area, doing something I love. It's the same in mid, but as others have said, it's not births and you would probably need to do the clinical hard yards of shift work to gain experience first.

But all that said, if you want to do it, there will be a way to make it work :) good luck!

#7 Soontobegran

Posted 10 February 2020 - 07:53 PM

For me it's the best job in the world but I take my hat off to anyone who studies after they have children.

Being child free whilst having to manage case studies, work a roster that was non negotiable and then complete a graduate year that is probably the hardest year of all was an absolute bonus to me.

As PP said you will not be able to rely on having time off such as Christmas, birthdays and other life events in the first few years if you want to be working in delivery or post natal and to be honest you need this time to give you the skills to branch out later on.

Maybe it is something for later on? If you go ahead I wish you every good luck, it is amazing.

#8 IamtheMumma

Posted 10 February 2020 - 10:26 PM

There are a couple of ways to do it but it happens once you've got a couple of years of experience under your belt. Studying is intensive. Grad year is intensive, don't do it full time. .8 maximum.

Contract work. In QLD the closer you are to a big city, the higher the chances are for contract work and less for permanent. A friend of mine, who worked regional, did school term contracts. She is an excellent midwife and the hospital wanted to keep her so she worked school terms only. However, this is not guaranteed. A new MUM took over and that was the end of that. My friend left and the profession is sadder for it.

I prefer contracts and I will work the majority of the year but I finish a few days before Xmas. This year, my contract will finish on the 18th of December. Yes I like to be with my family at Xmas but its mostly to do with the lack of childcare. I've had one centre close for 3 weeks and one that was only closed on the public holidays. Educators are entitled to their holidays too but it sucks to be an essential service around that time. However if you have family who can help out, laughing.

When I was nursing, I used to work night shift on Xmas Eve and then stay awake while the kids opened their presents before falling asleep on the couch while they played with their new toys. Now I'm older, I can't pull that off anymore.

MGP or Caseload - 30-40 women per year at varying risks, depends on the area. Year before last, not a single MGP woman birthed over the holidays. Sometimes midwives get a bit creative with their selection process around holidays and pick women whose due dates are all at the start of the month. Not that this guarantees anything. You still have to be on call and work in with your team but there's more flexibility in it than core work (even though core has more staff).

#9 emmbop

Posted 11 February 2020 - 10:48 PM

Thanks all for taking the time to reply!

The on call aspect isn't too bad for me as my partner is home pretty much 24/7 and I also have parents and siblings who all live 10-30 minutes away if I was stuck.

Really, my situation couldn't be any more ideal to take on midwifery, it's just those couple of sticking points (missing special holidays, stability) that are holding me back.

IamtheMumma, that's given me a few options to think about, thanks!

#10 Tiara15

Posted 12 February 2020 - 02:37 AM

Have you looked at becoming a doula in the interim? (If you decide to wait to join midwifery until the kids are a bit older with shiftwork etc) This will give you some flexibility in terms of how many patients/clients you choose to take on.

Edited by Tiara15, 12 February 2020 - 02:48 AM.

#11 emmbop

Posted 12 February 2020 - 11:00 PM

View PostTiara15, on 12 February 2020 - 02:37 AM, said:

Have you looked at becoming a doula in the interim? (If you decide to wait to join midwifery until the kids are a bit older with shiftwork etc) This will give you some flexibility in terms of how many patients/clients you choose to take on.

It had crossed my mind, as well as even just becoming a volunteer ABA breastfeeding counsellor (bit concerned that their overly pro-breastfeeding values won't align with mine though). I should look into the doula thing a bit more though! I think what held me back was that I've only had one scheduled c-section, I've never even been in labour, so I don't feel very qualified with helping someone through labour!

Very open to any more ideas like this though if anyone has any others!

#12 littlepickle

Posted 13 February 2020 - 09:51 PM

I became a midwife a good 4 years before I was pregnant with my first and some of the most amazing midwives I know have never had kids. To be honest I think I was actually a more empathetic birth suite midwife before I had laboured myself (I have super quick and easy births). I only ever share my birth experience with women if they specifically ask for details - the day is about them and their experience as a birthing woman.

#13 sarahec

Posted 14 February 2020 - 06:25 AM

I’m a nurse and in all my work places you only have to work Xmas or NY so I’ve often been able to get Xmas off. You can often swap shifts for birthdays etc.

I actually don’t mind missing out though if I have to. I don’t really like rotating rosters and lack of sleep.

After a few years you could apply to go part time or to the community.

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