A midwife is a licensed professional who provides primary care to clients and their babies during pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postpartum period. As primary care providers, midwives may be the first point of entry to maternity services and are fully responsible for clinical decisions and the management of care within their scope of practice.
The midwife is recognized as a responsible and accountable professional who works in partnership with women 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. This care includes preventive measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures.
The midwife has an important task in health counselling and education, not only for the woman, but also within the family and community. This work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health and childcare.
A midwife may practise in any setting including the home, community, hospitals, clinics or health units.
International Confederation of Midwives, 2005
To be registered in Nova Scotia, a midwife will have completed a four-year university program that covers a wide variety of subjects related to midwifery, ethics, and clinical skills, successfully passed a national exam and received an offer of employment from the health authorities. In Nova Scotia, only midwives who are registered with the Midwifery Regulatory Council of Nova Scotia can call themselves “Registered Midwives”.
Fundamental to midwifery care is respect for the normal, healthy process of pregnancy and childbirth, and for women’s power and ability to give birth. Midwifery care promotes, protects and facilitates normal physiologic birth.
The purpose of a Code of Ethics is to set forth the ethical principles and standards which professionals are expected to meet and by which their actions can be judged. The MRCNS Code of Ethics identifies the obligations inherent in the midwife’s professional role. Midwives have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of their profession and to uphold ethical principles in the provision of care for childbearing women and their infants within their families and communities. This Code is grounded in values that are fundamental to midwifery practice and professional relationships with clients, families, colleagues and communities.
Competencies for entry to the practice of midwifery in Canada are defined by the Canadian Midwifery Regulators Consortium (CMRC) in Canadian Competencies for Midwives.
The general and specific competencies defined by the CMRC in the following areas are approved by Council as core competencies for midwives in Nova Scotia:
In Nova Scotia, the clinical practice of midwifery means the provision of antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum and newborn care as a primary care provider. This care may be provided either within or outside of a hospital setting.