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Midwifery in NZ

In New Zealand, maternity care is provided by Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs), most of whom are midwives. Women are entitled to free maternity services during pregnancy, labour and birth and the postnatal period until the baby is six weeks old. 

Women choose their preferred LMC who may be a midwife, obstetrician or GP with a diploma in obstetrics. LMCs are contracted through the Ministry of Health to provide complete maternty services to the pregnant woman and her family.

The Ministry of Health and the New Zealand College of Midwives' websites have wide ranging, current information on maternity services in general and on midwifery in particular.

The Ministry of Health is responsible for setting the standards for maternity services in New Zealand. It has in place specifications for the District Health Boards about the range of services and facilities each must provide. Through the section 88 Maternity services Notice, it also sets out the requirements for all LMCs.

The Department of Internal Affairs Having a Baby web page contains good information that expectant and new parents will find very helpful.

Philosophy of midwfery care developed by the New Zealand College of Midwives

  • Midwifery Care takes place in partnership with women. Continuity of midwifery care enhances and protects the normal process of childbirth.
  • Midwifery is holistic by nature: combining an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, pyschological and physical ramifications of women's reproductive health experience, actively promoting and protecting women's wellness; promoting health awareness in women's significant others; enhancing the health status of the baby when pregnancy is on-going.
  • Midwifery is dynamic in its approach; based upon an integration of knowledge that is derived from the arts and sciences; tempered by experience and research; collaborative with other health professionals.
  • Midwifery is a profession concerned with the promotion of women's health. It is centred upon sexuality and reproduction and an understanding of women as healthy individuals progressing through the life cycle.
  • Midwifery care is given in a manner that is flexible, creative, empowering and supportive.

The Midwifery Council is responsible for protecting the health and safety of members of the public by providing mechanisms to ensure that midwives are competent and fit to practise midwifery.

Registered midwives who hold midwifery qualifications, are subject to various requirements relating to maintaining ongoing competence and the Codes of Conduct and Ethics. The Midwifery Council strongly recommends that consumers seek maternity care only from a midwife who is registered with the Midwifery Council and who holds a current practising certificate.