Midwifery Council of New Zealand

Midwifery Council of New Zealand

Midwifery Scope of Practice

The Midwifery Council is required by Section 11 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCAA) to prescribe the Scope of Practice for midwifery. The scope was first published September 2004. The Scope and qualifications were re-published in 2010 following an amendment to the qualifications.  The Midwifery Scope of Practice is the legal definition of midwifery in New Zealand.

The Midwifery Scope of Practice

The midwife works in partnership with women, on her own professional responsibility, to give women the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period up to six weeks, to facilitate births and to provide care for the newborn.

The midwife understands, promotes and facilitates the physiological processes of pregnancy and childbirth, identifies complications that may arise in mother and baby, accesses appropriate medical assistance, and implements emergency measures as necessary. When women require referral midwives provide midwifery care in collaboration with other health professionals.

Midwives have an important role in health and wellness promotion and education for the woman, her family and the community. Midwifery practice involves informing and preparing the woman and her family for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenthood and includes certain aspects of women's health, family planning and infant well-being.

The midwife may practise in any setting, including the home, the community, hospitals, or in any other maternity service.  In all settings, the midwife remains responsible and accountable for the care she provides.

Gazette Notice Scope and Qualifications 2010

The Competencies for Entry to the Register provide details of the skills, knowledge and attitudes expected of a midwife to work within the Midwifery Scope of Practice. Whereas the Midwifery Scope of Practice provides the broad boundaries of midwifery practice, the Competencies provide the detail of how a registered midwife is expected to practise and what she is expected to be capable of doing. The Competencies are on the "Competencies" page.

Midwives working in the area of Abortion Services, Family Planning Services and Neonatal Intensive Care

In March 2005 Council added a footnote to the Midwifery Scope of Practice to the effect that "in relation to a preterm baby, the Midwifery Council defines the six-week postpartum period as commencing from the expected date of birth rather than the actual date of birth". In other words, Council recognises that for preterm babies, the postpartum midwifery role may extend beyond six calendar weeks.

The Council has also clarified its expectations in relation to direct entry students and midwives working in neonatal intensive care units; in relation to midwives working in gynaecology areas; and in relation to all midwives working in maternity units in a clinical role. This information can be downloaded below.

Council requires all midwives working in maternity units in a clinical role to hold a Midwifery Practising Certificate.

Further interpretations on Scope March 2005

Information for midwives in relation to the Midwifery Scope of Practice - further interpretations March 2005



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