In New Zealand > Midwifery in New Zealand

Midwifery in New Zealand

Midwifery: an autonomous profession

Midwifery in New Zealand regained its status as an autonomous profession in 1990. 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 complete primary maternity service to childbearing women on its own responsibility.

Midwives work in many ways to provide maternity services to women and their whanau. All midwives are expected to work in partnership with women, providing or supporting continuity of midwifery care throughout the woman’s experience. Midwives work collaboratively with other health professionals when necessary to meet any additional medical, health or social needs of mothers and their babies.

For more information about the professional autonomy of midwives, click here.

Contexts for Practice

The maternity service in New Zealand is an integrated system of primary, secondary and tertiary care. All maternity care is free except if a woman chooses a private obstetrican, who may charge the woman in addition to the set fee the obstetrican receives from the government.

Primary maternity care is provided by Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs) who work under Section 88 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. Lead Maternity Carers are selected by women to provide their lead maternity care and can be either midwives, general practitioners with a diploma in obstetrics or obstetricians. LMCs take responsibility for the care provided to women throughout pregnancy and up to six weeks following, including the management of labour and birth.

Women in New Zealand can choose to give birth at home, in primary maternity facilities or birthing centres, or in secondary maternity hospitals.

For more information about the midwifery contexts for practice, and links to the facility specifications which describe what these services provide for women, click here.

The Maternity Service: An Integrated Model

The LMC model of primary maternity care is the cornerstone of the maternity service. All other services fit in around this model so that the woman experiences a seamless maternity service that meets her individual needs, whatever these might be. This model is unique in the world and has been highly successful in New Zealand with women expressing considerable satisfaction with their maternity services.

The New Zealand maternity service provides a good example of an integrated health service because LMCs can access any necessary additional services such as obstetric or paediatric services for their clients.

For more information about maternity services in New Zealand, click here.