Skills Needed to Become a Midwife

Updated March 23, 2017

Midwives assist women throughout their pregnancy, birth and post-partum period. Despite the name, midwives can be either men or women. In the United States, midwives are classified as either nurse-midwives, who are registered nurses, or direct-entry midwives, who entered the profession without being an RN first. Midwives not only need scientific and medical knowledge to help their clients, but also social skills.

Communication and Listening Skills

According to a 1998 article in the British Journal of Midwifery, communication skills are "a critical component" of midwife care. Midwives are one of the primary sources of health information and support during pregnancy. Midwives need to able to convey this in a clear, effective manner. Since midwives will deal with a large number of clients, all of whom may be different in temperament, financial and family situations and education, good midwives will need good communication and listening skills. They cannot assume a woman already knows something or make the decision that a family should not be told important news. Pregnancy is a very emotionally and physically-intense period, and midwives will be asked many questions. Those who answer in unclear, ambiguous or incorrect manners will only add to their patients' stress or endanger their and their babies' health.


Midwifery is a physical profession. "Physical and emotional stamina" is listed by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council as one of the most important skills midwives can possess. Assisting with a birth may take many hours, and midwives should be prepared to be in it for the long haul. They cannot pack up and go home if they get tired or a birth takes all night. Midwives also need stamina to see a patient through the entire pregnancy and post-birth periods as well. They are with each client for roughly a year, and maybe longer, so midwives need not only physical stamina but the emotional stamina to handle this kind of ongoing personal interaction.

Ability to Handle Stress Well

Birth, even if you are not the one doing it, is a stressful event. Midwives are the responsible medical professionals on the scene, and they need to be able to handle whatever happens in a calm, confident and effective manner. Complications can happen, and a midwife needs to be ready to provide the care needed for breech births, pre-term labour, abnormally long labour or umbilical cord prolapse (when the umbilical cord precedes the baby into the birth canal) or compression.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Amber D. Walker has been writing professionally since 1989. She has had essays published in "Fort Worth Weekly," "Starsong," "Paper Bag," "Living Buddhism" and more. Walker holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Texas and worked as an English teacher abroad for six years.