In New Zealand > Definition and Scope of Practice

Definition of a Midwife

The New Zealand College of Midwives accepts the International Confederation of Midwives definition of a midwife, revised and adopted by ICM Council June 15, 2011, which reads:

A midwife is a person who has successfully completed a midwifery education programme that is duly recognised in the country where it is located and that is based on the ICM Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice and the framework of the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Education; who has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery and use the title ‘midwife’; and who demonstrates competency in the practice of midwifery.

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.

To practise as a midwife in New Zealand, the midwife must have an annual practising certificate issued by the Midwifery Council of New Zealand