ICM International Definition of the Midwife
A midwife is a person who has successfully completed a midwifery education programme that is based on the ICM Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice and the framework of the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Education; and is recognized in the country where it is located; 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
The midwife is recognised as a responsible and accountable professional who works in partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period, to conduct births on the midwife’s own responsibility and to provide care for the newborn and the infant. This care includes preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical care or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures.
The midwife has an important task in health counselling and education, not only for the woman, but also within the family and the community. This work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health and child care.
A midwife may practise in any setting including the home, community, hospitals, clinics or health units.
Key midwifery concepts that define the unique role of midwives:
- partnership with women to promote self-care and the health of mothers, infants, and families;
- respect for human dignity and for women as persons with full human rights;
- advocacy for women so that their voices are heard;
- cultural sensitivity, including working with women and health care providers to overcome those cultural practices that harm women and babies;
- a focus on health promotion and disease prevention that views pregnancy as a normal life event.
Photo Credit: Juliana Wiklund