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Philosophy and values of midwifery

Midwifery philosophy

Midwives recognise pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period as healthy and profound experiences in women’s lives.

The ethos of midwifery care is to work in partnership with women. Midwives use professional knowledge, skills and attitudes to competently support the woman and her baby.

Midwifery protects and enhances the health of women and babies, which in turn protects and enhances the health and wellbeing of society.

Midwifery values

‘Cnáimhseachas’ refers to the modern Irish term for midwifery. Historically in Ireland, ‘an Bhean Ghlúine’ was the midwife. The many-layered meaning of the word ‘glún’ includes depicting the midwife with the woman, both on their knees, one birthing and one supporting. Glún means ‘knee’ in this sense. It also carries the meaning of ‘generations’ – hence ‘ó ghlúin go glúin’, ‘from generation to generation’.  The English word ‘midwife’ means ‘with woman’.

The NMBI believe the following values shape midwifery practice and are core to the Practice Standards for Midwives. These values are also shared with the International Confederations of Midwives (ICM).

Midwives believe that:

  • Having a baby is a profound experience, which carries intense meaning to the woman, her baby, her family and the community.
  • The woman is the primary decision-maker in her care and she has the right to information that helps her to make decisions.
  • Birth is a normal physiological process.
  • Midwives are the most appropriate care providers to attend women during pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period, and in collaboration with other health care professionals, when required.
  • Midwives value empowerment of women to assume responsibility for their health and for the health of their families.
  • Midwifery care combines art and science. Midwifery care is holistic, grounded in an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, psychological and physical experiences of women and based upon the best available evidence.
  • Midwives have confidence and trust in, and respect for women and their capabilities in childbirth.
  • Midwifery practice must always be based on principles of professional conduct as stated in the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives and on the scope of midwifery practice as stated in the Scope of Nursing and Midwifery Practice. 
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Practice Standards for Midwives


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