We see lots of people come onto the site and stress over how to get volunteer/work experience for their UCAS applications, so I am writing this little article to tell you about all sorts of different experiences that you can gain and how to go about getting them.
Now most people firstly think the experience they have to gain has to be directly midwifery related which is simply not true, yes it is probably the option most would opt for but it isn't completely neccessary.
If you want to get stuck into something directly midwifery related and start on that career ladder you could try looking for a Maternity Assistant/MCA job. These jobs are quite rare to come accross but your best place to look for them is on the NHS Jobs website or by ringing up trusts directly and asking if they have positions.
A lot of hospitals do have volunteer programs but again these are very popular and they don't tend to have enough positions for the amount of volunteers! For example I held tours for parents to be showing them around delivery suite and the postnatal ward at St. Michaels Hospital in Bristol. Yes, I was one of the first to do these tours in their next set of available days!.
Some hospitals are very strict on volunteering within the maternity department and won't accept any volunteers so it can be a case of lucky if they do where you live or unlucky if they don't.
First port of call would be to go onto the hospitals website and see if they have a volunteering section with contact details on how to get in touch or too look/ring and see if they have a Voluntary Services Manager.
Another example is Mid Staffordshire hospital they are currently looking for 'meet and greeters', yes it's not everyones cup of tea and is not directly linked to midwifery but it is still very relevant. You will need to be friendly, approachable, have communication skills and a caring nature, plus you will meet a variety of people/situations which is always a positive and essential skills for a midwife.
So scout out your local hospitals website and get hunting for that volunteer position. Remember it doesn't HAVE to be midwifery related, but think about the skills you will have to use in that role and how they transfer into midwifery, you can then use this in your personal statement!
If you really can't get any experience in a hospital setting then don't fret there is plenty of other options you can do.
For example you can try your local community/sure start centre and see if they need a hand with any baby/mum groups, breastfeeding groups or even if you can just sit in on a post natal depression group. Each centre will have their own timetable so go along and find out what's on and who to get in touch with and just beg for you to be able to help!
You could also try looking for baby cafe groups in your area, they also offer volunteering or you could even set up your own baby cafe to support breastfeeding mums! It is all relevant and good expeirence to get involved with supporting breastfeeding where you can.
Heres a huge list of breastfeeding support groups from the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, if you want to ring a group directly to see if you can go along and sit in to see what goes on or get invovled.
La Leche League also run breastfeeding groups -they also offer ways of getting invovled, whether that be hosting a group in your home or welcoming new moms to the group.
You can also try and get in touch with midwives to see if you can shadow them i.e attend appointments or maybe even attend a homebirth with them. The best option would be to contact a local Independent midwife as it will be between herself and the women whether you can observe and not be complicated with all the regulations from hospitals etc.
Again this very much depends on the midwife, some are very willing to get people invovled and show them their ways of working and others a less keen, also it depends on the women whether you can directly observe the care they receive as at the end of the day it is their birth experience, so don't be upset if nothing comes of it but look for a local IM at Independent Midwives UK, ring or write!
If you can't shadow a Independent midwife, just ask them for a chat, ask them about their role etc it is all relevant as you are gaining an insight into the role of a midwife.
Not what you would normally think as relevant experience? Your wrong, it is very much relevant.
Attending as many midwifery conferences/study days is very relevant as it shows your keen, your passionate and deidcated to widen your knowledge about midwifery. Plus they are great learning experiences as you have the opportunity to meet like minded people and talk everything midwifery related. Also many days will have workshops where you actually learn about topics so yes it is relevant!
The ARM do an annual conference with there next one coming up on the 11th of November. I attended last years and it was brilliant, I met with so many midwives/students it was great to hear everyones different experiences. The speakers were brilliant and I learnt loads!
We have a couple of our own days booked next year with the hope of adding more on all sorts of related subjects so keep an eye on them on our Upcoming Study Day Page.
Another good place to look for upcoming study day/events is on The Practising Midwife website, but don't forget peeps that google is your friend!
If you want to get into midwifery then expect to be expected to know what is going on in the midwifery world.
The best place for this is Midwifery forums such as us here at Midwifery Online as well as others, no one site is better than another we all have our pros and cons. We post daily updates regarding midwifery news from around the world in our Midwifery News section.
Also subscribing to midwifery journals such as -
The Practising Midwife
British Journal of Midwifery
ARM Membership - You will get 4 copies of the Midwifery Matters magazine and discount to the ARM conferences
Another good place to keep up to date with what's going on is at the RCM website.
You can also gain work experience with birth professionals such as those who teach hypnobirthing, doulas or antenatal teachers. I am collating a list of birth professionals who actively take on aspiring midwives for experience (which should make things a lot easier for you). All the contact details, what they do and what areas are covered are listed on the 'Work experience with pre-approved birth professionals' page.
Now it is time to think outside of the box! Why not volunteer to help out at a Domestic Violence Helpline? Think of the skills you will learn through training and what you would use in practice! Remember what I said earlier about transferring skills into midwifery? Very relevant. Have a look at Womens Aid for example.
There is also a organisation Home Start where volunteers help out families with children. The only requirement I can see is that you need to of brought up children yourself, visit their website for more information.
Why not volunteer with Midwifery Online? We take on volunteers to write midwifery/birth related content for the site. This is something that you can put in your personal statement to show you have the ability to research topics and write successfully. We also offer other volunteer roles. You would volunteer for any other 'midwifery' organisation, so why not us? We are non-profit and do the best we can to help you succeed, be the one who stands out from the crowd and do something a 'bit different'. You can apply for any of our roles by simply filling out an application form.
If you've experienced a miscarriage yourself, you could help provide peer support with the Miscarriage Association. Helping and supporting those through a time that you have been through.
The above list is not everything I could possibly think of but all I could write! I hope I have triggered you too think of something unique or rethink about something that you originally dimissed. Think what you can learn from it and use it in midwifery, thats key!
If you want to add links/info on any other services then please do share, we know it's hard to find experience so help out those in the same boat as you.
Ta ta for now x