Midwifery courses take centuries of knowledge and teach them through modern methods. In old times midwives didn't take any type of class to learn their trade. They went through an apprentice program and assisted in live births. Midwives trained their younger sisters and daughters and the entire family got in on the business. They didn't have classrooms or schools for this sort of thing. They held a position of stature, like the elders in the community.
In the United States things are changing in the opposite direction. A Master's Degree is required to become a nurse midwife today. Therefore, you need a Bachelor's before you can begin this course. Also, you need to be currently working in the nursing field, preferably already with some labor and delivery time under your belt. There's a 'term paper' requirement for graduation where you entail your reasons for desiring a career as a midwife.
Here are some of the things your midwifery course will cover. Naturally there will be extensive training on the labor and delivery part of your career. Many emergency situations could arise during a delivery that you will need to be fully prepared for. This training will need to become second nature to you, so when needed, you can react quickly. That's why there's also a course on pharmacology and physiology. Then there's the psychological and emotional care of the patient and her family. You will be learning how to talk them through their fears and concerns, reassuring them that it will all be ok in the end.
Your work doesn't end there either. You will be learning post-partum care also. Once the baby is born, you need to be able to take a quick assessment and care for the newborn. This will take more than a general knowledge of infant care. You're the first line of care for the mother and the child, and any emergencies that arise will be on your hands. Assuming everything is fine, you will still be in contact with the family for up to a couple weeks after the birth. Midwives also make home visits to check on the well being of the family and address any future concerns. Some midwives stay with a family through all their gynecological needs, even to menopause, assisting all female family members.
Also midwives work in many different settings. Hospitals utilize midwives to assist mothers who want the extra care and attention that doctors just can't give. Many women have their personal midwife come to the labor and delivery room with them to assist. You will be providing emotional support for the family on top of the medical care that is required. Often your clients will opt for a home birth, such as water births and quiet births. You will need to be trained in these alternative methods as well.
After you've met the requirements for entering the midwife classes, you will still need around 2 years to complete it. It's possible to go part time, but you're doubling your time commitment in the long run. You can become an apprentice for an existing midwife also. You can't do that until you're almost done with your Certified Nurse Midwife course.
Some countries still employ midwives and duolas as their norm, with hospitals being reserved for emergencies only. While the rate of cesarean sections in the US has risen dramatically in the past 2 decades, there's also an upswing of midwives returning to the forefront. Women are taking their labor options into their own hands. So if you've been thinking about taking one of the available midwifery courses, now would be the time. Job security is looking good for this field.