Midwifery Philosophy

Australians at the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) conference in Prague, 2014

Midwife means ‘with woman’: this underpins midwifery’s philosophy, work and relationships.


  • is founded on respect for women and on a strong belief in the value of
    women’s work, bearing and rearing each generation.
  • considers women in pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting to be
    undertaking healthy processes that are profound and precious events
    in each woman’s life. These events are also inherently
    important to society as a whole.
  • protects and enhances the health and social status of women, which in turn
    protects and enhances the health and wellbeing of society.
  • is a woman centred, political, primary health care discipline founded on the relationship between a woman and her midwife.
  • focuses on a woman’s health needs, her expectations and aspirations.
  • encompasses the needs of the woman’s baby, and the woman's family, her other important relationships and community, as identified and negotiated by the woman herself.
  • is holistic and recognises each woman’s social, emotional, physical, spiritual and cultural needs, expectations and context as defined by the woman herself.
  • recognises every woman’s right to self-determination in attaining choice, control and continuity of care from one or more known caregivers.
  • recognises every woman’s responsibility to make informed decisions for herself, her baby and her family with assistance, when requested, from health professionals.
  • is informed by scientific evidence, by collective and individual experience, and by intuition.
  • aims to follow each woman through pregnancy, labour and birth and the postnatal period, across the transition between institutions and the community, so she remains connected to her social support systems; the focus remaining on the woman, not on the institutions or the professionals involved.
  • includes collaboration with and consultation between health professionals.

Inspired by work from: New Zealand College of Midwives, Nursing Council of New Zealand, Nursing and Midwifery Council UK (formerly UKCC/ENB), Royal College of Midwives, College of Midwives of British Columbia, College of Midwives of Ontario, Australian College of Midwives, Nurses Board of Victoria, Nursing Council of Queensland, the World Health Organization, Guilliland and Pairman (1995), Leap (2004).

Midwifery continuity of care

Knowing your midwife - being cared for by, and able to build a trust and rapport with, the same midwife during pregnancy (or even pre-conception), through labour and birth, and into the early weeks of mothering - has benefits for mothers, babies and society. Read more here.