Midwives provide advice, care and support for women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and the early postnatal period. They help women make their own decisions about the care and services they access.
They care for newborn children, providing health education and parenting support immediately after delivery, until care is transferred to a health visitor.
Midwives are personally responsible for the health of both mother and child and only refer to obstetricians if there are medical complications. They work in multidisciplinary teams in both hospital and, increasingly, community healthcare settings.
Typical work activities
A midwife has a range of responsibilities, including the care of mother and baby, adhering to hospital policy and maintaining an awareness of issues such as health and safety. Duties include:
diagnosing, monitoring and examining women during pregnancy;
developing, assessing and evaluating individual programmes of care;
providing full antenatal care, including screening tests in the hospital, community and the home;
identifying high risk pregnancies and making referrals to doctors and other medical specialists;
arranging and providing parenting and health education;
providing counselling and advice before and after screening and tests;
offering support and advice following events such as miscarriage, termination, stillbirth, neonatal abnormality and neonatal death;
supervising and assisting mothers in labour, monitoring the condition of the foetus and using knowledge of drugs and pain management;
giving support and advice on the daily care of the baby, including breastfeeding, bathing and making up feeds;
liaising with agencies and other health and social care professionals to ensure continuity of care;
engaging in professional development to meet PREP (post-registration education and practice) requirements;
participating in the training and supervision of junior colleagues.
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