Quality Practice > Philosophy and Code of Ethics

Philosophy and Code of Ethics

The NZCOM has developed statements to explain the underlying philosophy of the profession in New Zealand. These statements are written for midwives, women and the general public to identify the values and beliefs that the profession holds.

The Philosophy and Code of Ethics are statements from which the midwifery profession develops its Standards of Practice and identifies ways in which the NZCOM members can understand the nature of responsible practice. Ethical statements and Standards of Practice are therefore often interwoven and complementary.

The statements incorporate a social as well as an individual ethic, in the belief that midwifery reflects the social context in which it exists. This includes the influence of institutional and environmental policies and practices on the welfare of women.

The NZCOM is committed to high professional standards. It expects its members to act responsibly and with integrity as well as developing and maintaining appropriate levels of competence.

Philosophy

Midwifery Care takes place in partnership with women. Continuity of midwifery care enhances and protects the normal process of childbirth.

Midwifery is holistic by nature: combining an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, pyschological and physical ramifications of women's reproductive health experience, actively promoting and protecting women's wellness; promoting health awareness in women's significant others; enhancing the health status of the baby when pregnancy is on-going.

Midwifery is dynamic in its approach; based upon an integration of knowledge that is derived from the arts and sciences; tempered by experience and research; collaborative with other health professionals.

Midwifery is a profession concerned with the promotion of women's health. It is centred upon sexuality and reproduction and an understanding of women as healthy individuals progressing through the life cycle.

Midwifery care is given in a manner that is flexible, creative, empowering and supportive.

Code of Ethics

Responsibilities to the woman

  • Midwives work in partnership with the woman

  • Midwives accept the right of each woman to control her pregnancy and birthing experience

  • Midwives accept that the woman is responsible for decisions that affect herself, her baby and her family/whānau

  • Midwives uphold each woman’s right to free, informed choice and consent throughout her childbirth experience

  • Midwives respond to the social, psychological, physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs of women seeking midwifery care, whatever their circumstances, and facilitate opportunities for their expression

  • Midwives respect the importance of others in the woman’s life

  • Midwives hold information in confidence in order to protect the woman’s right to privacy.  Confidential information should be shared with others only with the informed consent of the woman, unless otherwise permitted or required by law

  • Midwives are accountable to women for their midwifery practice

  • Midwives have a responsibility not to interfere with the normal process of pregnancy and childbirth

  • Midwives have a responsibility to ensure that no action or omission on their part places the woman at risk

  • Midwives have a professional responsibility to refer to others when they have reached the limit of their expertise

  • Midwives have a responsibility to be true to their own value system and professional judgements. However, midwives’ personal beliefs should not deprive any woman of essential health care.

Responsibilities to the wider community

  • Midwives recognise Māori as tangata whenua of Aotearoa and honour the principles of partnership, protection and participation as an affirmation of the Treaty of Waitangi

  • Midwives encourage public participation in the shaping of social policies and institutions

  • Midwives advocate policies and legislation that promote social justice, improved social conditions and a fairer sharing of the community’s resources

  • Midwives acknowledge the role and expertise of community groups in providing care and support for childbearing women

  • Midwives act as effective role models in health promotion for women, families and other health professionals.

Responsibilities to colleagues and the profession

  • Midwives support and sustain each other in their professional roles and actively nurture their own and others’ sense of self-worth

  • Midwives actively seek personal, intellectual and professional growth throughout their career, integrating this into their practice.

  • Midwives are responsible for sharing their midwifery knowledge with others

  • Midwives are autonomous practitioners regardless of the setting and are accountable to the woman and the midwifery profession for their midwifery practice

  • Midwives have a responsibility to uphold their professional standards and avoid compromise just for reasons of personal or institutional expedience

  • Midwives acknowledge the role and expertise of other health professionals providing care and support for childbearing women.

  • Midwives take appropriate action if an act by colleagues infringes accepted standards of care

  • Midwives ensure that the advancement of midwifery knowledge is based on activities that protect the rights of women.

  • Midwives develop and share midwifery knowledge through a variety of processes such as midwifery standards review and research

  • Midwives participate in education of midwifery students and other midwives

  • Midwives adhere to professional rather than commercial standards in making known the availability of their services.


References:

International Confederation of Midwives Code of Ethics, May 1999.

New Zealand College of Midwives Standards of Practice, Service and Education 1988, 1990, 1993, 2002, 2005.

Principles and Guidelines for Informed Choice and Consent, Department of Health 1991.

Informed Consent and Decision Making, New Zealand College of Midwives Consensus Statement 2000.

Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights Wellington, 1996.