The Real Poop
So you love babies and want to help bring them into the world. But you're really not in the mood to go get your doctorate (and who cares about organic chemistry anyway?). Instead of becoming a doctor or something silly like that, you'll do the next best thing: become a midwife.
When you think midwife, you might imagine an older woman wearing a full-length apron and a habit, half praying and half dousing the mother with holy water. That's a very Middle Ages perspective on the career. In case you haven't noticed—although we really hope you have by now—this isn't the Middle Ages. Midwifery has come a long way since then.
For instance, you don't work in a barn—well, unless you actually specialize in barn-births. We guess there's gotta be a niche market for that out there somewhere.
Once considered the only birth-assistance option for women without means, having a midwife as a member of the birth team, or even going solo, is now a valid option for any expectant mother. It's also turned into a $95,000 per year job (source). We're sure our midwife forebears would be thrilled to hear that.
Of course, people are a whole lot less trusting than they used to be. They expect midwives to have things like "credentials" and "experience." That's what happens when a job moves from being almost mysticism to being considered a medical profession. You'll definitely need schooling, and at least one (if not two or more) midwifery certifications under your belt.
By far, the most common (and employable) type of midwife is the Certified Nurse Midwife (source). This baby manager has rigorous nursing training. Biology and anatomy will certainly be involved, and you can bet your fancy scrubs that means nursing school.
Maybe you really, really don't want to get any nursing training. Certified midwives are totally allowed to deliver babies, but they don't necessarily have any nursing training to speak of. If parents are okay with that, then it's fine by us. But don't go blaming us when the water breaks and you don't know how to fix it.
We're just kidding; in that situation call a plumber (we're on a roll).
By now, you must get the sense that midwives didn't just get to skip school. Many midwifery programs that lead to either a CNM or CM certification mean not just college but also graduate school. While you're piling that studying in, try to remember that this is for the best. People trust nurses, and families are willing to pay more for trustworthy care. And isn't that what's important?
We mean the trust part. Yeah, okay, the better pay's great too.
So you got your degree, and you've been certified in your state, and now you need a job. This is where you start applying yourself—we mean that literally and figuratively.
Literally, because midwives can work at hospitals, pediatric clinics, birth centers, birthing communes, and anywhere else a baby might pop out. Figuratively, because you can also advertise your services independently. "Midwife for Hire" isn't just the name of our progressive rock back; it's a sound business strategy.
Are you cut out for a life of midwifing? You are if you're physically and mentally capable of standing on your feet twelve hours a day with barely five minutes to yourself to chow down on the granola bar you stuck in your bag. You're cool with that? We're glad to hear it, because that's every day from now until you retire (source).
Like doctors, midwives don't clock in or out—they're on call twenty-four hours a day. In addition to working a full-time schedule, many CNMs are on call for what ends up being an average of sixty hours per week. You can never really switch off in this career. It's not like the babies are going to wait for you to get the proper eight hours of sleep.
Finally, are you able to keep calm and stay upbeat and friendly while running from one screaming patient to another in a crowded, underfunded hospital ward? If that sounds like an environment where you'll thrive, you'll be just the person expectant parents need.
Notice how we never mentioned gender—at least until now? Well, that's because it doesn't matter. There are plenty of male CNMs delivering plenty of babies and totally cool with being called a midwife. It's amazing what you can overlook when you're actually making a difference in peoples' lives.
If you want this job because you like pictures of cute babies in flowerpots and you think you'll get a lot of them, you're in this for the wrong reasons. You're going to be knee-deep in baby needs all day every day—and no matter how cute they are, the blood and poo and screaming will get to you.
But if you can put up with the hectic work schedule and occasionally more hectic noise level, there may be nothing better than helping a new human being enter the world.
Especially since they're going to pay you so well for it. Welcome to the world indeed.