What is a Midwife

and what do we do?

“Midwifery is a profession with a distinct body of knowledge and its own Scope of Practice, Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The midwifery profession has knowledge, skills and abilities to provide a primary complete maternity service to childbearing women on its own responsibility” (NZCOM 2014)

A Midwife is a registered health professional who provides care to women and their babies through pregnancy, labour and birth and for up to six weeks postnatally (after birth). Each Midwife works within a model of care that enables each pregnant woman and their family/whanau to have the information and knowledge to make true and informed decisions and choices throughout a maternity episode.

Throughout the world the New Zealand Midwifery model of care is held in high regard and this is reiterated with the vast majority of women now choosing a midwife to provide this care. This relationship between a pregnant woman and her midwife is unique to midwifery and continues to be built on trust and information sharing.

A core value of being a midwife is a healthy respect for and the protection of each pregnancy being seen as a healthy normal process, one that has long term and long lasting impressions on every body concerned.

Every New Zealand Midwife has completed a University degree – called A Bachelor of Health Science or also known as a ‘Bachelor of Midwifery‘ in order to gain the qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience needed to provide safe and professional midwifery care. Only when a midwife has obtained her/his Degree and passed a final national examination, has undergone rigorous screening through the New Zealand Police and Justice system can she/he then apply to be registered with the Midwifery Council Of New Zealand.

Once deemed suitable the midwife will be supplied with an Annual Practicing Certificate (APC). This APC must be applied for every year and the midwife must have continued to be up skilled and up dated throughout the year by attending compulsory and elective study days and continue to be legally and morally competent to be re-issued with her/his APC. A Midwife cannot work without a current APC.

Scope of Practice of the Midwife

“The midwife works in partnership with women, on her own professional responsibility, to give women the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period up to six weeks, to facilitate births and to provide care for the newborn.

The midwife understands, promotes and facilitates the physiological processes of pregnancy and childbirth, identifies complications that may arise in mother and baby, accesses appropriate medical assistance, and implements emergency measures as necessary. When women require referral midwives provide midwifery care in collaboration with other health professionals.

Midwives have an important role in health and wellness promotion and education for the woman, her family and the community. Midwifery practice involves informing and preparing the woman and her family for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenthood and includes certain aspects of women’s health, family planning and infant well-being.

The midwife may practise in any setting, including the home, the community, hospitals, or in any other maternity service. In all settings, the midwife remains responsible and accountable for the care she provides.” (NZCOM website, 2014)