The aim of regulation is to support midwives to work autonomously within their full scope of practice. By raising the status of midwives through regulation the standard of maternity care and the health of mothers and babies will be improved.
The goal of these standards is to promote regulatory mechanisms that protect the public (women and families) by ensuring that safe and competent midwives provide high standards of midwifery care to every woman and baby.
The Global Standards for Midwifery Regulation (2011) are deliberately generic and take a principle rather than a detailed approach to midwifery regulation. These standards provide a benchmark for global standardisation of midwifery regulation. They have two purposes. Firstly, they provide the basis for review of existing regulatory frameworks. Secondly, they provide guidance and direction to countries seeking to establish regulatory frameworks for midwifery where none currently exist.
Because the ICM is the only international organisation that represents midwives it is important that the ICM sets standards that support midwives to practise within the ICM definition and scope of practice of a midwife and enhance high quality midwifery care. Therefore, the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Regulation (2011) do not merely reflect existing midwifery regulatory frameworks commonly found in many developed countries. Rather these standards are high level standards that set an ideal regulatory direction to underpin and enable autonomous midwifery practice.
It is anticipated that some countries with well-developed specific midwifery regulation frameworks will be able to use these standards as a benchmark. However, it is understood that this will not be the case for many countries. Those countries where existing midwifery regulation is closely linked with nursing or medicine or where regulation is managed by government may identify many differences between these standards and their existing regulatory frameworks and processes. The standards can provide a benchmark against which to assess existing legislation and regulatory processes. Midwives, through their midwifery associations, are encouraged to use the standards as a tool for lobbying for change.
The ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Regulation (2011) can guide amendments to existing legislation and promote changes that strengthen regulatory frameworks to support autonomous midwifery practice. For example, where midwives are regulated alongside or together with nurses or other health professionals it is essential that separate and specific regulatory structures and processes are established to enable autonomous midwifery practice and ensure high quality midwifery care for mothers and babies. As a step towards midwifery-specific regulation the separate professional identity of midwives must be recognised in any regulatory processes. Midwives are encouraged to seek opportunities to strengthen midwifery regulation and to work collaboratively with governments, regulators and policy makers to develop a plan and timeframe for implementing these global standards.