Midwifery is more than just a career—it is a calling. Once someone becomes a midwife, they are always a midwife at heart. Even after retirement, many midwives continue serving women and babies as volunteers, advocates, or informal counselors. What drives this lifelong dedication?
The Meaningful Work of Midwifery
At its core, midwifery attracts people seeking meaningful work. Midwives develop close relationships with women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. They provide support, education, counseling, and hands-on care throughout this transformative life stage.
Witnessing new life enter the world and empowering women in the process is profoundly fulfilling. As one midwife remarked: “We get to be present with a family during one of the most vulnerable and intimate moments of their lives. That’s an honor and responsibility I don’t take lightly.
My job feeds my soul.” Once midwives experience the joy and privilege of their work, they are hooked for life. While every birth is different, the magic and wonder remain the same. Even after attending thousands of births, many midwives continue feeling awestruck. The passion that drew them to midwifery stays with them throughout their career.
The Continuity of Care Model
Another reason midwives maintain lifelong dedication is the continuity of care model. Midwives often follow women across multiple pregnancies, developing relationships spanning years or decades.
Seeing familiar faces pregnancy after pregnancy and watching families grow fosters a sense of purpose and connection. Midwives feel invested in these women and babies, whom they view as “their families.” The continuity deepens relationships between midwives and clients, keeping midwives engaged and committed long-term.
Advocacy and Education
Midwifery also attracts advocates seeking to improve maternity care, support physiological birth, and empower birthing women. Midwives recognize glaring inequities and flaws within mainstream maternity care models.
They tackle system-wide problems like disproportionately high maternal mortality rates among Black women.Many midwives engage in advocacy or public education to raise awareness around birth options and resources. They serve on hospital committees, boards, and policy task forces working to advance the midwifery model of care. Others conduct independent research or speak at conferences and community events.
Through advocacy initiatives, midwives create positive change that improves outcomes and experiences for women regionally or nationally. This drive to keep enhancing maternity care sustains lifelong dedication to the field.
Flexibility and Variety
Additionally, midwifery offers unparalleled flexibility and variety that prevents career burnout. Midwives can mold their practices to suit personal lifestyles and interests. Options include:
- Practice settings: hospitals, birth centers, home birth, private practice
- Types of care: gynecology, primary care, family planning, newborn care
- Specializations: diabetes, infertility, teen pregnancy, geriatrics
- Roles: clinical, research, policy, advocacy, public health, education
Midwives can train in multiple specialties or transition into new roles over time. This diversity keeps midwives engaged as they advance through different career stages.
An administrator might return to clinical work part-time, for example, or a hospital midwife could open a private practice.
Professional Growth and Learning
Finally, midwifery enables continual learning and growth. The field changes rapidly with emerging research and best practices. Growing public interest in midwifery also leads to new career prospects.
Lifelong students at heart, most midwives enthusiastically embrace these developments. Many midwives pursue higher education like PhDs or DNPs to expand skill sets. Through advanced degrees, they develop specializations and credentials equipping them for leadership positions.
Further knowledge also helps midwives better serve women and families by implementing evidence-based care. Overall, intellectual curiosity and dedication to personal growth characterize successful midwives.
Their passion for learning extends across decades, keeping them invested in the field. There are always new milestones to reach, knowledge to gain, and goals to accomplish.
The calling to serve women, babies, and families motivates midwives across busy decades-long careers. Midwifery work is profoundly meaningful, often described as a “privilege” and “blessing.”
Once midwives experience the joys of ushering new life into the world and shepherding women through life’s transitions, they feel forever changed. Though retirement eventually comes, the identity and spirit of a midwife remain. Once a midwife, always a midwife.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes someone want to become a midwife? People become midwives because they feel drawn to meaningful work empowering women and families. They are passionate about pregnancy, childbirth, reproductive health, and supporting positive early parenting.
Many midwives also seek careers that allow close relationships with patients over months or years. What retirement options exist for midwives? Retired midwives often continue working per diem doing labor support, postpartum care, or gynecological exams. Some open private consulting practices assisting with lactation, newborn care, etc.
Others volunteer through doula collectives, abortion funds, or clinics in underserved areas. More opportunities include advocacy, policy work, research, teaching, writing, public speaking, and international aid work. Why don’t all midwives open their own practices? Launching a solo practice requires major financial, legal, administrative, and marketing expertise.
Burnout is high among independent midwives working without breaks, paid time off, or clinical support systems. Many midwives prefer employment arrangements offering structure, shared call schedules, mentoring, and facilities like ultrasound machines or laboratories.
What are the biggest challenges facing the midwifery profession today? Key challenges include restrictive state laws limiting midwifery practice, barriers accessing hospital privileges, Medicaid reimbursement policies, medical community antagonism, and lack of public awareness around midwives’ safety and outcomes.
Structural racism also impacts the midwifery field, as Black women disproportionately rely on midwifery care.
- Midwifery attracts people seeking profoundly meaningful work supporting women through major life transitions.
- Continuity of care models allow midwives to develop long-term relationships spanning years.
- Passion for advocacy and education initiatives helps drive lifelong dedication to improving maternity care.
- Flexibility, variety, and opportunities for growth prevent midwifery career burnout.
- Retired midwives often continue serving women and babies through volunteer work or informal roles.