A midwife is in the privileged position of sharing the journey of a woman and her family from pregnancy to parenthood. Being involved in the birth of a new life is just one of the great rewards of this career choice. Midwifery is an exciting and evolving profession in the health care sector and has much to offer.
Definition of the midwife
"The midwife is recognised 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 preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical care 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 the community. This work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health and child care.
A midwife may practise in any setting including the home, community, hospitals, clinics or health units." (ICM, 2011)
Midwives work in:
- maternity units in public and private hospitals
- antenatal clinics
- caseload/MGP models
- birth centres
- labour/birth suites
- postnatal and neonatal units
- community-based health services
- universities (as midwives, teachers and researchers)
- childbirth and parent education classes
- private practice
- in practice with obstetricians.
Midwifery in NSW Ministry of Health
There are currently two midwifery positions in the Ministry supporting the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer.
Carolyn Ripper, Principal Advisor Midwifery, Nursing and Midwifery Office
Carolyn's work entails:
- providing strategic policy advice on midwifery, maternity and child and family health nursing matters
- leading, coordinating and developing public policy in relation to midwifery and child and family health nursing issues
- leading and managing teams of NSW Health staff and key external stakeholders in the design, development and implementation of statewide projects in the areas of midwifery, maternity and child and family health nursing
- providing expert guidance and clinical advice to the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer (CNMO), the Ministry and Government on issues relating to midwifery, maternity and child and family health services.
Julie Mate, Midwifery Project Manager of Birthrate Plus®, Workplace Relations
Julie, working closely with Birthrate Plus® co-director Mrs Marie Washbrook in the United Kingdom, is leading the Birthrate Plus® project in NSW.
Workforce planning and salary information
In 2011 NSW Health and the NSWNA committed to the adoption of Birthrate Plus®as the tool for calculating the required midwifery workforce in NSW maternity services.
Birthrate Plus®is a midwifery workforce planning methodology from the United Kingdom that provides a framework to assess the midwifery hours of care required at a service based on a minimum standard of one-to-one midwifery care throughout labour and birth. NSW Health has engaged with the Directors and authors of Birthrate Plus® Consultancy Limited, Mrs Marie Washbrook and Mrs Jean A Ball, to formalise the contractual and licensing agreement necessary for the implementation of the tool.
Annualised salary package agreement
On 20 August 2014 the NSW Nurses' Association and the NSW Ministry of Health reached agreement on a Pilot Model Annualised Salary Agreement for Midwifery Group Practices.
Breastfeeding policy and Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI)
NSW Health Policy Directive PD2011_042 Breastfeeding in NSW: Promotion, Protection and Support demonstrates our commitment towards improved population breastfeeding practices.
Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI)
The Nursing and Midwifery Office has representation on the NSW BFHI Committee which was established to protect, promote and support the objectives of BFHI Australia within NSW ensuring consistency and quality commensurate with the National Standards and International benchmarks.
NSW Breastfeeding Working Group
The NSW Breastfeeding Working Group is facilitated and chaired by the Maternity, Child, Youth and Paediatric Unit of the Health and Social Policy Branch in the NSW Ministry of Health. Membership of the group includes representation from:
- the Nursing and Midwifery Office and Centre for Population Health in the NSW Ministry of Health
- local health district child and family health clinical nurse consultants and clinical midwifery consultants
- Australian College of Midwives
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
- Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand
- Australian College of Neonatal Nurse
The group supports policy implementation regarding breastfeeding. For further information contact the Maternity, Child, Youth and Paediatric Unit on (02) 9461 7204.
Policy directives and guidelines
NSW Health policy directives and guidelines are grouped under four main functional groups. Each functional group contains sub-groups that further describe the subject of a document. The list below is the most common functional sub-groups to hold policy directives and guidelines relevant to maternity care.
NSW Mothers and Babies Report 2010
Maternity emergency guidelines for registered nurses
Maternity emergency guidelines were developed for registered nurses who are not also registered midwives, but who may be faced with a maternity emergency in rural/remote areas.
These guidelines have been distributed to all local health districts in NSW. Copies can be obtained from the Australian College of Midwives NSW Branch.
NSW Health provides a career pathway for registered nurses to become registered midwives called MidStART. The program involves employment as a student midwife in a NSW public health facility whilst studying a postgraduate midwifery degree at university.
National midwifery registration and professional organisations
From 1 July 2010, nurses and midwives across Australia will have to meet the same registration requirements and their registration will be recognised in all states and territories. Further information can be found on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia website.
A four-year election commitment package of $2.5 million for training scholarships for existing rural midwives in NSW was released in 2007. The Nursing and Midwifery Office have been working with the rural local health districts to plan and provide a wide range of education initiatives for the midwives in rural NSW. Included in this funding package is scholarship support for undergraduate midwifery students and student midwives undertaking a postgraduate qualification in midwifery from communities across rural NSW.
The NSW Nursing and Midwifery Scholarship Fund offers postgraduate scholarships to support the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives within the NSW public health system.