3 Top Pros & Cons Of Being A Midwife
Midwifery has long roots in human history, and over the years, the profession has experienced shifts, both in acceptance and practice. And today, midwives continue to play an indispensable role in the maternity care system, providing prenatal care, assisting in labor and birth, and offering postnatal support. Their holistic woman-centered approach to childbirth also resonates with many families, especially those who prefer natural birth.
But like any profession, midwifery has its advantages and challenges. Here’s a closer look at the top three pros and cons of being a midwife.
Pros of Being a Midwife
Becoming a midwife in the United States is not for the faint-hearted. After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring midwives need to undergo a master’s course focused on midwifery’s science, clinical, and practical aspects before taking the national certification board exam. Meanwhile, nurse midwives must complete nursing school and obtain a graduate degree in midwifery before being certified.
Besides the academic journey, midwifery internships are crucial in shaping their skills and knowledge, providing them opportunities to work alongside experienced midwives and helping them develop a deeper understanding of the social and community impact midwives have.
While the path to becoming a midwife is tough, this career has many pros that make it a rewarding choice.
There has been a growing recognition of the benefits midwives bring to maternal and infant care in recent years. This, coupled with concerns about cesarean section rates and maternal/infant morbidity rates in the US, has triggered a shift towards prioritizing midwifery care in the healthcare system.
According to the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), the number of certified midwives has been increasing. As of 2021, there are over 13,000 certified midwives, with the majority being certified nurse-midwives (CNMs). This impressive statistic showcases the rising demand for midwifery care.
One of the greatest advantages of being a midwife is the opportunity to help bring new life into the world. Whether working in a hospital, community center, or home setting, there’s a lot of emotional satisfaction in witnessing the miracle of birth and supporting families during this intimate moment.
Furthermore, midwives usually have prolonged holistic patient interactions. They build deeper relationships by helping mothers during delivery and the prenatal and postpartum periods, especially with breastfeeding and care of the infant.
Excellent income Prospects and Career Progression
The salary of midwives has steadily increased in the last ten years. Currently, income on average is USD$112,000 per year, with 25% earning less than $130,000 and peaking at $170,000.
However, it’s worth noting that the earnings of a midwife can vary based on factors such as their educational background, qualifications, and where they work. For example, those employed in hospitals, obstetrics clinics, and birthing centers might enjoy added benefits like 401(k) plans, health coverage, and paid leave.
Pursuing further certifications, attaining an advanced nursing degree or a doctorate, or stepping into managerial positions can also boost their salary. For instance, a certified nurse midwife overseeing a birthing facility will likely earn more than a newly certified midwife at the onset of their profession.
Cons of Being a Midwife
Just like in all careers, the highs come with the lows. Despite the promises a career in midwifery holds, it’s important to acknowledge the potential drawbacks.
Midwifery regulations vary by state in the US, with some being more restrictive than others. While CNMs can practice anywhere in the US, CMs can only work in a few states.
This variation in regulatory frameworks can have implications for midwives seeking to establish their careers or provide services in different regions. As such, individuals interested in midwifery should conduct extensive research into the legal requirements and restrictions before pursuing their careers. By doing so, they can ensure that they operate lawfully and effectively in their chosen location.
While the relationship has improved, there can still be tensions between midwives and obstetricians (OBs) in some settings in the US. One of the conflicts is the scope of practice. While midwives are trained to handle low-risk pregnancies and natural births, OBs are expected to manage high-risk pregnancies and surgical interventions. In certain cases, such as breech births, the ambiguity about who should handle a situation can lead to conflicts.
Because of their different orientations, some midwives, especially those prioritizing natural birthing processes, might be less inclined to recommend medical interventions unless necessary. On the other hand, OBs with a surgical background may be more likely to suggest medical interventions. This difference in approach can sometimes cause misunderstandings.
One emotionally charged area involves misconceptions about the level of training and expertise each brings. Some OBs may not fully understand the rigorous training midwives undergo and vice versa. Moreover, state regulations and hospital policies can vary widely regarding how midwives are allowed to practice, creating confusion and disagreements in a shared practice environment.
However, it’s worth noting that many OBs and midwives collaborate effectively and respect each other’s expertise. Efforts are being made in many medical communities to bridge the gap between these two vital professions.
Erratic Hours and Burnout
Like many healthcare professions, midwifery is not immune to the risk of burnout. However, since midwives often develop close relationships with their clients, the emotional and physical demands combined with long and irregular working hours can contribute to professional burnout.
Also, babies come when they come, which means midwives often work unpredictable hours. Being on one’s feet, sometimes for extended periods, and assisting in labor can be physically taxing.
Being a midwife is a fulfilling and challenging profession that offers numerous benefits, but it also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. The personal satisfaction of witnessing new life and providing personalized care is often balanced by the emotional burden, demanding working hours, and potential interprofessional tensions.
Ultimately, individuals interested in pursuing a career in midwifery should carefully consider the pros and cons of being a midwife to determine if they align with their personal and professional goals.