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About midwives

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Midwives are registered health professionals whose expertise is providing care to women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and birth and the first six weeks after birth.

Click here if you would like to read about the definition and Scope of Practice of midwives

Midwives complete a four year equivalent degree known as the ‘Bachelor of Midwifery’ in order to gain the knowledge, skills and experience they have to provide safe and professional midwifery care. Once qualified midwives are then registered with the Midwifery Council of New Zealand and are required to have an Annual Practising Certificate.

New Zealand midwives work in a partnership model of care with women. In this model each woman and her midwife are partners, working together to ensure that the woman has care that best meets her individual needs.

Midwifery Care

Midwife means ‘with women’

Midwifery care is the provision of knowledge, advice, care and support to women and their families during pregnancy, labour and birth and the early weeks following birth.

Midwives: providing safe outcomes for women and babies

The World Health Organization states that… ‘the midwife is the most appropriate and cost effective type of health care provider to be assigned to the care of normal pregnancy and normal birth, including risk assessment and the recognition of complications’ (WHO 1996).Midwifery care results in a reduced risk of complications, fewer interventions and healthier births for women and their babies.

Midwives: the experts in their field

Pregnancy and labour are seen as normal life events which occur within the life of a family – this is the focus of the midwife’s expertise.

Midwives: the ‘core’ of the maternity service

All women having babies require midwifery care. Midwives provide the ‘core’ of the care in the maternity service. They work with obstetric specialists as needed.

Midwives: enabling women to make informed decisions

Midwives offer a range of information on which women can base decisions about their care. A supportive relationship enables the woman to make decisions that are right for her and her family.

Midwives: there to provide one-to-one support and care during labour.

Midwives are the primary caregiver for women during labour; providing care that facilitates the natural process of labour whenever possible. Labour support and care are enhanced by the benefits of a relationship established during pregnancy.

Midwives: providing continuity of care

Midwives provide continuity of care from conception to discharge at four – six weeks after the baby is born.

The woman and the midwife get to know each other well over the whole maternity experience, building a relationship of trust with each other, sharing information and decision-making and recognising the active role that both play in the woman’s maternity care. Midwives’ care is founded on respect for normal pregnancy and birth as healthy processes and profound events in a woman’s life and that of her family.

Midwives practise in different settings. They can work in the community as Lead Maternity Carers providing continuity of midwifery care at home, in birthing units and in hospitals to women throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and the first weeks after birth. Midwives provide free maternity care to all eligible women in New Zealand and the vast majority of New Zealand women have a midwife as their Lead Maternity Carer (LMC). LMC midwives work with other members of the health care team if women need additional care during pregnancy, labour and birth or the post natal period.

Midwives can also work within maternity hospitals, as “core midwives” working rostered shifts to provide 24 hour care while women are inpatients. Core midwives work alongside their LMC colleagues and other health professionals to ensure women receive the care that meets their needs.

More information about midwives, how they are educated and how they work can be found in the Fact Sheets

For more information on midwives and how they can help you e-mail nzcom@nzcom.org.nz