There are a number of paths to becoming a midwife. The two most common paths are direct-entry midwife training, through apprenticeship and licensed nursing midwifery training as a part of a nursing degree. Regardless of the chosen method of entry into midwifery, the practitioner will be providing prenatal care and assisting with labour and delivery. Additionally, the midwife will need many other vocational skills, such as providing the family with counselling, support, education and services based on their specific needs. Basic anatomy and childbirth medical procedures, as well as skills in recognising and dealing with possible complications before, during and after delivery are also essential, as are training in lactation and infant behaviour,
Basic Anatomy and Body Systems
The midwife needs to have in-depth knowledge of basic anatomy, specifically, relating to women and infants, as well as an understanding of the female reproductive system and fetal growth and development. Midwives must monitor the health of the mother, foetus and infant; therefore, they need to know the specifics of how each of the body systems work and how to determine potential problems. They need to be able to regulate and monitor the body systems of the mother, foetus and infant. The midwife also needs to have training in proper prenatal, postnatal, fetal and infant nutrition.
Pregnancy and Childbirth Procedures
Before becoming a midwife, it is essential to have proven knowledge and skills dealing with every aspect of pregnancy, labour and delivery. Midwives must know how to tell a normal pregnancy from one with the potential for complications. They need to know how to recognise complications, how to handle complications and when to refer the mother for medical intervention. Midwives need to be trained in proper sterilisation procedures, umbilical cord care, premature or past-due labour and newborn infant care. In addition to being trained for a normal birth, the midwife must be properly trained and prepared to deal with any complication that could arise with the mother or the infant during pregnancy, through labour and delivery or within the first six months to a year after birth.
Lactation and Infant Behavior
Midwives need to know the basics of lactation including normal lactation, nutrition for lactation, problems with lactation and how to increase or decrease lactation. They need to understand infant behaviour with regards to lactation and suckling, as well as be able to identify and correct problems with latching on or suckling. Midwives must be able to help the mother and infant with lactation, suckling and nutrition issues.
Counselling and Support Services
The midwife provides basic counselling and support services in order to ensure the overall well-being of the mother and her family. Basic training in counselling and mental health is necessary for the midwife to identify mental, emotional or psychological stress and to effectively help and support the mother and family throughout the childbearing year. Midwives also need to have knowledge in family system and cultural differences in order to meet the needs of the family.
Adult Education and Communication
Midwives need a minimal amount of training and skills in teaching and educating adults. The midwife provides education on pregnancy, birth, infant care and postpartum care to the mother and her family. The midwife must be able to effectively communicate and educate the family members based on their individual needs and educational level.