Module 1- Midwifery
Topic 1 – Definition of a midwife
Welcome to the course Midwifery .In this first module, we'll cover what a midwife is and the different contexts of midwifery practise.
My name is Lyn Ebert, and I'm the Bachelor of Midwifery programme convenor at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. I've been a practicing nurse for more than 40 years and a registered midwife for 25.I commenced nursing in 1975 and did that for a number of years before I decided I'd like to do midwifery. But I, like many people, thought midwifery was aboutworking with babies primarily and never considered the woman. When I commenced my midwifery training, I slowly realised that midwifery was about the woman. The focus of our care was on the woman. And over the years, I've come to the realisation that it's that relationship between the woman and midwife that's pivotal for the care that women receive during their childbearing experience. And it's what I love about midwifery, that one-to-one care that we're able to provide and the relationship that I build with the women. So I hope you enjoy learning about midwifery this topic.
The historical definition of a midwife is a person who works with a woman during pregnancy, labour and birth, and the immediate postnatal period.
The word itself derives from an ancient word meaning mid or "with" and wife or "woman." So midwife literally means "with woman."
The World Health Organisation defines a midwife as a person who supports and works with women during pregnancy, labour and birth, and the postnatal period; a person who ensures that the woman remains healthy and detects abnormalities; who refers and collaborates with medical colleagues as required; and in the absence of medical assistance, initiates emergency procedures.
The Nurses and Midwives Board of Australia recognise a midwife as a person who is responsible and accountable, who works in partnership with women, and offers advice and support throughout, again, the antenatal, labour and birth period, and postnatal period.The midwife is accountable and responsible to conduct births autonomously.
Again, the midwife refers and collaborates with her medical colleagues if the woman's pregnancy or birth steps outside the realm or the scope of normal practise, and the midwife initiates medical care as required.
Clearly from these definitions, midwifery practise involves a partnership between the midwife and the woman she's working with or supporting. The midwife shares her information and knowledge to support that woman. But equally, the woman shares her individual or private knowledge of her body and her requirements or her needs during the childbearing experience.
The midwife's role is to protect the dignity and the expectations of the woman during the childbearing experience so the woman feels empowered and safe to birth in the manner in which she chooses.
Midwives are autonomous health care practitioners. The scope of midwifery practise involves working with the women throughout pre-pregnancy pregnancy, labour and birth, and the postnatal period up to and including six weeks following the birth.
The midwife works under her own responsibility and accountability and works in partnership with the woman as long as the woman and her baby remain well.
Topic 2 – what midwifes do?
Throughout the ages, women have relied on a skilled attendant to support them during their pregnancy, labour, and birth--usually another woman. However, midwives need to develop the skills to involve the woman's partner and the family. And this involves being aware and intuitive of the dynamics that are in the room when the woman is giving birth. Perhaps the art of midwifery is being able to understand the processes that are not spoken within the room-- to observe the woman, and see how the woman's progressing through her labour, without intervening too much.
For example, midwives may stand back, and listen, and