Skills & Qualities of a Midwife
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Midwives are trained health care professionals that deliver babies in a variety of settings, including patients’ homes, hospitals and birthing centers. They also provide prenatal and postpartum care to women, and many provide routine gynecological care, as well. Midwives need a wide range of skills to perform their jobs well.
Midwives require certain medical skills. They must monitor women during pregnancy and childbirth, taking vital signs, monitoring the fetal heart rate, assessing the baby's position and mother's health, noting any complications and providing the appropriate treatment. Most midwives perform episiotomies if necessary and suture any tears after delivery. Certified nurse-midwives can prescribe prescription drugs when needed.
Good Communication Skills
Midwives need good communication skills. They must understand the concerns and desires of parents for whom they care and educate expectant parents about pregnancy and childbirth. Midwives also need to communicate clearly with other health care professionals, including doctors and nurses if patients give birth in a hospital setting and emergency medical technicians if emergencies occur during home births. In addition to good verbal communication skills, midwives need good written communication skills because they must maintain medical charts for all patients.
Midwives must be flexible because babies are born at all hours of the day and on holidays. They cannot always work a fixed schedule. In addition, some births are quick but others take many hours, so midwives must have flexible schedules. Midwives must also remain flexible with regard to meeting the needs of parents from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of desires regarding their birth experiences. For example, some parents will want lots of people present at their child’s birth while others will want privacy; some will want a natural childbirth, while others will welcome medical intervention.
Keeping Cool in Emergencies
While most births go smoothly, especially low-risk births attended by midwives, emergencies can and do happen. Midwives need to keep calm in emergencies and respond readily while reassuring worried parents as much as they can. They also need to communicate clearly with other health care professionals during emergencies and function well as part of a team during those occasions. Midwives need to be able to manage their own stress and prevent it from interfering with their ability to do their jobs.
Since emergencies can and do happen suddenly, midwives must think fast on their feet. An uneventful birth can become a life-threatening emergency in a matter of minutes, and midwives must respond immediately and appropriately in such situations. They must weigh numerous factors and make quick decisions in emergencies and act decisively to prevent disaster.
Mike Andrews is a freelance writer and serial entrepreneur focused on small-business and entrepreneurship for average people. He holds a bachelor's degree in biblical studies and a master's degree in theology and has appeared in a wide array of print and online periodicals including "HiCall," "Mature Living" and "Caregivers Home Companion."