Getting Started As A Maternity Nurse
I’ve recently been approached by a nanny with 15 years experience, who is also a proud new mother. She had a question for me that I’m often asked; ‘how do I get started as a maternity nurse?’
It was immediately obvious that the nanny in question clearly loved her role working with children. Perhaps transitioning from nanny to mother opened up a whole new idea of the type of care she could provide.
Supporting families during such an intimate and special time is hugely rewarding but also very demanding. But it doesn’t suit everyone. So, the key question you should ask yourself before exploring the possibility of becoming a maternity nurse is, ‘would this be the right career for me?’
From my experience, having helped many maternity nurses negotiate positions and terms with families and private employers, here’s a few key things you should consider in order to help you find the answer to whether becoming a maternity nurse is the right career choice for you.
– Your Employment Background
Maternity nurses come from a variety of backgrounds, including private nannying, nursery and nurse care, or even a medical background as a midwife or paediatric nurse. Having a related background in your chosen field, and being educated in either a childcare or medical field, is strongly advised and will certainly help you with your career as a maternity nurse. But it isn’t essential.
Some maternity nurses have a completely different background, and make the transition after becoming a mother themselves. That being said, if you do decide to make this change without a childcare or medical background, you’ll need to understand that you’ll have a challenge ahead.
– The Pros Of Being A Maternity Nurse
With any new career choice, there will always be positives and negatives. So it’s worth considering these before making the jump. The “pro’s” vary depending on personality.
- In our experience, maternity nurses tell us they love the precious moments they spend with a family; watching babies develop and being able to offer invaluable advice to parents and relatives to help them make the most of their baby experience.
- You’ll become an expert as your career develops; with each new experience, you learn something new. You’ll follow new research and guidelines, attend seminars, read books or blogs – whatever you feel benefits your knowledge and understanding. The more experienced and knowledgeable you become, the higher a rate you may charge. A postnatal carer can earn anything from £13ph to £20ph up north and more down south.
- You’ll also have more control over your time and your career. If you want to take a 3-month holiday, you can. If you only want to work in a certain city, that’s fine. If you prefer to only work certain hours, why not. You’ll of course restrict yourself and potentially restrict your earnings but if you can make it work it’s great! You will oversee writing up a contract and asking parents to sign it before you’re booked, which means you can include your own terms.
– The Cons Of Being A Maternity Nurse
This brings us neatly to our “cons”:
- You’re in charge of your own career, right? So, this means you’re self-employed. You’ll need to look after your own tax and national insurance with HMRC. You won’t be paid holiday or sick leave, and you’ll need to manage your bookings and income fluidly throughout the year.
- You may have a few months without work so you’ll need to save a rainy day fund, or have a second flexible job that you can pick up if needed.
- You may also come across sticky situations where you’re not happy in a certain role. At other times, you might find yourself in a position that’s not progressing as planned.
I’m sure if you spend an hour over a coffee with an experienced maternity nurse they’ll be able to offer you much more of an insight on the real pro’s and con’s!
Read More: A Day In The Life Of A Pregnant Nanny
Becoming a Maternity Nurse
If you decide this is definitely the road for you, getting started is the next step. To become a maternity nurse you need to skill and educate yourself to become the expert that families are keen to hire. This comes in two forms; through study and through experience.
Study will involve life-long learning; always reading up on research and blogs, attending new courses or seminars and undertaking as much professional development and further education as you can squeeze into your often very busy schedule.
A post-natal carer course is commonly taken by maternity nurses. This is a non-medical course and usually takes around 6 weeks to complete. Prices vary but tend to be around £400 – £500, and include classroom time followed by home based study. There are various courses available held in London, although some courses are making their way up North. You can also continue to top this up with modular courses in areas of interest such as multiples, breastfeeding, and post-natal depression etc.
A maternity course alone is not usually enough to encourage a family to hire you – they’ll be looking for recent experience working with families with similar situations, along with excellent references. New maternity nurses often find it valuable to offer their services for free to gain the all important practical experience and references.
Essentials To Getting Started As A Maternity Nurse
To be a maternity nurse you’ll need to ensure you have a few key essentials under your belt. These are:
- A CV
- References from previous families
- A paediatric first aid course
- A fully enhanced DBS check that is on the update service
- Public liability insurance
- A contract that can be signed by both parties
Branding Yourself & Finding Work
Getting yourself discovered is the secret to making it as a maternity nurse. Maternity nurses tend to find their bookings by either joining up with reputable agencies, being contactable online, or by word of mouth. Some will make their own websites to allow families to find them locally, or perhaps use social media to their advantage.
Choose your agencies based on factors that are important to you, such as jobs and location. If you want to stay in a certain town or city, join local agencies. If you want to be nationwide, perhaps join larger, London based companies.
Make sure you meet with a consultant and know that they’re your contact in case of emergency. Some agencies will try to set your rate, however ask for them to put you forward for positions at the rate you require. Agencies will need to see proof of ID along with the list of essentials above.
Use the internet to your advantage by creating your own personal blog or website. This will allow you to really get creative with nice images, a bit of a bio about you, and even testimonials from previous families.
Use your website or online listing to allow families to connect with you. Make sure you include an email address, phone number, and your social media connections (but make sure you’ve optimised your social media profile to help not hinder your job search).
You could also use sites like gumtree, childcare.co.uk or Netmums to allow families to find you, however you may need to pay for these listings. Social media is a good place to network; join maternity nurse or new parent Facebook groups, get active on Twitter, and set up a LinkedIn account. There are also groups you can join such as the Maternity Nurse Association (MNA).
– Word of mouth
Maternity nurses often find referrals are one of their best sources for new bookings! A referral placement is also a great way to get started. If there is anyone who you know such as a neighbour or a friend of a friend who is expecting a baby, get in touch! Offer your services to them either for free or at a starter rate. It’s a great way to spend time learning and will also be great to use on your CV and as a reference. This could either be a few hours during the day, or overnight stays.
Once you get started you’ll then start to see families passing your details onto their friends; you could even offer a friend discount to encourage this. Keep a stack of business cards or leaflets to encourage them to pass your details on.
Whatever you decide, do it well and enjoy your time! Being a maternity nurse is not an easy job, you’ve got great responsibility and precious life in your care during long days and waken nights. But speak to any maternity nurse, and I guarantee they’ll share stories that are filled with love and tender care.
It truly is an honour to meet and work with passionate and loving maternity nurses every day who can offer families such valuable advice and service, and I wish you the best in your career – whether you decide to get started as a maternity nurse, or whether you continue in your current passions. If I can help you in any way, we’re always up for a brew and a chat!