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Purpose and Mission
Midwives are healthcare specialists who work with expectant mothers during pregnancy, labour,
childbirth, and the first few weeks of the newborn. Their primary responsibility is to provide care
and advice to expectant moms throughout the pregnancy and in the early days of infancy.
Many midwives are self-employed, so they do not have a direct supervisor. Some midwives are
employed by hospitals and clinics, and they may report to and be evaluated by a medical doctor
or facility administrator.
Most midwives in Australia do not have direct supervisory responsibilities. Experienced
midwives are frequently asked to train or mentor new midwives, and some midwives (especially
those with masters degrees) eventually move into more supervisory rather than direct care
roles. Midwives do, of course, act in a supervisory role (for both the expectant mother and her partner)
during the actual delivery.
There are two ways to become a midwife in Australia. The first way is to earn a Bachelor of
Midwifery. A Bachelor of Midwifery is a three year undergraduate degree for those who do not
have any nursing experience. The course curriculum focuses on continuity of care (that is,
providing care throughout the pregnancy and first weeks after birth), as well as clinical
experience. Students working toward a Bachelor of Midwifery must spend at least 50% of the
total program hours working hands-on with experienced midwives.
The other method to become a midwife is to earn a Bachelor of Nursing degree, followed by a
Graduate Diploma or Master of Midwifery. Midwifery graduate programs take around 12-18
months, while a nursing degree typically requires three years.
Responsibilities of a Midwife
Midwives have a variety of responsibilities in working with expectant mothers. Specific duties
include: advising on nutrition, childcare, and other related questions after the birth, preparing for
and assisting in delivery, working to manage the pregnancy and childbirth, carefully keeping
track of the condition of the mother during the pregnancy as well as offering advice and physical
therapy (including massages and stretching exercises) relating to pregnancy, providing advice
to mothers and partners, and, last but not least, offering a range of support services to mothers
during both the pre-natal and postnatal periods.
Typical workplaces for midwives include private residences, clinics, and hospitals. A growing
number of midwives today are employed in non-medical facilities such as community centres or
private firms. Of note, over 99% of midwives in Australia are women.