What is it really like to be a Midwife?

Michelle Hancock, Infant Feeding Lead Midwife at Milton Keynes University Hospital, explains the rewards and challenges of a career in Midwifery.

I have worked at Milton Keynes University Hospital for seven years now, starting out as a Band 5 Midwife before taking my Preceptorship and becoming a Band 6 after one year. I then took a secondment covering maternity leave as an Infant Feeding Specialist, before becoming a Band 7, which I achieved within three years.

Before my Midwifery career, I spent 12 years working as a Personal Assistant. I had always wanted to become a Midwife but the timing had never felt right, until I had my children. After I turned 30, I decided to go back to college and follow my passion. I became a breastfeeding peer supporter and that was the start of my journey toward my new career path. Whilst completing my access course, I trained as a Maternity Care Assistant at Bedford Hospital.

Why Milton Keynes?

I came to MK initially for the Preceptorship opportunities available, which were very good back then, but are even better now. I was struck at the interview how much personality and passion accounted for. There can be self-doubt when you are newly qualified, but it was made clear to me that my attributes gave me all I needed to succeed, as long as I was committed.

The atmosphere amongst the wards and staff was happy and approachable, which instantly put me at ease. This has remained the case ever since and just this month, I was reviewing feedback from new staff and was delighted to see how many comments were made about the helpful and friendly nature of the team.

What are the best and most challenging parts of the job?

I love supporting the women that arrive through the doors of Milton Keynes Hospital as it is an incredibly rewarding role to play in their pregnancy. There can be a misconception that Midwifery is all about cuddling newborn babies, and whilst that might be a perk from time to time, the definition of a Midwife actually means ‘with women’. Caring for the babies is of course incredibly important, but the real value we add is in the reassurance, knowledge, time and support we provide to women.

Working in Midwifery requires you to give your all and you never forget that you are impacting people’s lives. The profession is more than a job and you will find yourself checking in on or thinking about women and babies from home at times. We are all human and it is impossible not to give a part of yourself to the role. 

What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in Midwifery?

Every day as a Midwife is different. This was especially true during the pandemic, but thankfully, restrictions and our ability to be face-to-face with the families we support has massively improved. Staffing levels across the entire health sector are a well-known difficulty, but necessity breeds opportunity. For more people like me, waiting for the right moment to follow their passions, now is a perfect time to take that step.

There have been some recent headlines about Midwifery and the need for improvements nationally, but this should not put anyone off from joining the profession. We are all here for the same reason, to support the women and babies who need us and to look after them to the best of our abilities. I am very proud that my daughter also wants to be a Midwife and is going to commence the first part of her training at Sixth Form college in September.

The best thing you can do to see if Midwifery is right for you is to gain some experience and lend a helping hand. Voluntary roles are often available for the inexperienced and provide invaluable insight into the reality of the job. Many times, we have seen volunteers stay on to become care assistants, then progress and train to become Midwives.

To see the latest opportunities available at Milton Keynes University Hospital, visit our careers page.