ICM Definitions

Definition of the Midwife

A midwife is a person who has successfully completed a midwifery education programme based on the ICM Essential Competencies for Midwifery Practice and the framework of the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Education, recognised 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.  

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Scope of Practice of the Midwife

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 healthand child care.

A midwife may practise in any setting including the home, community, hospitals, clinics or health units.

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Definition of Midwifery

Midwifery is the profession of midwives, only midwives practise midwifery. It has a unique body of knowledge, skills and professional attitudes drawn from disciplines shared by other health professions such as science and sociology, but practised by midwives within a professional framework of autonomy, partnership, ethics and accountability.

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Philosophy and Model of Midwifery Care

Throughout the world midwifery has been practiced for centuries, and has features and characteristics that have evolved differently according to local or regional cultural and social traditions and knowledge. This document provides a universal, description of the philosophy and model of midwifery care, without compromising local or regional characteristics of midwifery care.

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Bill of Rights for Women and Midwives

The International Confederation of Midwives calls for governments globally to recognise and support accessible and effective midwifery care as a basic human right of all women, babies and midwives.

The issues for women around gender equity and access to education also extend to midwives as a woman-dominated profession. The Bill of Rights for Women and Midwives addresses those basic human rights of women and midwives that have been systematically denied and adds another framework to approach governments when demanding change to improve midwifery and maternity services.

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International Code of Ethics for Midwives

The code addresses the midwife’s ethical mandates in keeping with the Mission, the International definition of the Midwife, and standards of ICM to promote the health and well- being of women and newborns within their families and communities. Such care may encompass the reproductive life cycle of the woman from the pre-pregnancy stage right through to the menopause and to the end of life. These mandates include how midwives relate to others; how they practise midwifery; how they uphold professional responsibilities and duties; and how they are to work to assure the integrity of the profession of midwifery.

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