The ICM International Definition of the Midwife (2023) states that a “midwife is recognised as a responsible and accountable professional, who works in partnership with women and gender diverse people 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.”
The ICM Essential Competencies of Midwifery Practice (2019) make clear that midwives assume responsibility and accountability for their practice, applying up-to-date knowledge and skills, and are responsible and accountable for clinical decisions.
ICM recognises that midwives, as defined in the ‘Definition of the Midwife’, have a duty of care to the women and newborns they care for, and for their own actions and professional advice. This accountability extends to those actions taken on the advice and orders of others.
For midwives to be accountable for their own actions, they must:
- Have acquired the knowledge and skills to competently carry out actions as part of a recognised professional education programme.
- Have the opportunity to access continuous educational programmes for regularly updating and expanding the knowledge and skills that are the basis of competent midwifery practice.
- Be aware of the obligation not to undertake actions for which they have not received the necessary education to achieve competency.
Member Associations are urged to adopt this statement for action in their own environment if no similar statement already exists.
Essential Competencies for Midwifery Practice
The Essential Competencies for Midwifery Practice outline the minimum set of knowledge, skills and professional behaviours required by an individual to use the designation of midwife as defined by ICM.
Definition of Midwifery
ICM has developed the definition of midwifery, used around the world as the basis of the profession.
Adopted at Glasgow Council meeting, 2008
Reviewed and adopted at Prague Council meeting, 2014
Reviewed and adopted at Bali Council meeting 2023
Due for next review, 2026