What is a midwife?

The term midwife means with woman. Midwives play a crucial role in promoting and maintaining health, facilitating normal childbirth and helping women and their families make informed choices about their care.

A midwife helps parents and families at one of the most significant times of their lives, supporting women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

A midwife uses his/her midwifery skills to provide care that is individual to each woman.

A midwife is a key professional, who provides continuity of care and promotes choice and control to women in pregnancy, birth and postnatally.

What qualification does one need to become a midwife?

In Ireland, there are currently two routes to becoming a midwife:

A four-year Bachelor Degree in Science (Midwifery) with eligibility to register on the Midwives division of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

An eighteen month Higher Diploma course in Midwifery by a Registered Nurse with eligibility to register on the Midwives division of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).

Where can a midwife work?

A registered midwife with the NMBI can work as an SECM (Self-employed Community Midwife working under the HSE), in a Midwifery Led Unit (MLU), or in a maternity hospital in Ireland.

In order to work in another country, you must enquire with the appropriate authorities about how to register as a midwife and if any other qualifications are needed.

What values and skill set should a midwife possess?

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland suggests that the following values should underpin midwifery practice and provide the basis for the formulation of a philosophy of midwifery:

Having a baby is a profound experience; which carries intense meaning to the woman, her baby, her family and the community.

The woman is the primary decision-maker in her care and she has the right to information that helps her to make decisions.

Birth is a normal physiological process.

Midwives are the most appropriate care providers to attend women during pregnancy, labour, birth and the post-natal period and in collaboration with other health care professionals when required.

Midwives respect all people equally without discriminating on the grounds of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, disability (physical, mental or intellectual), or membership of the Traveller community.

Midwives value empowerment of women to assume responsibility for their health and for the health of their families

Midwifery care combines art and science. Midwifery care is holistic in nature – grounded in an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, psychological and physical experiences of women, and is based upon the best available research and experiential evidence.

Midwives have confidence and trust in, and respect for women and their capabilities in childbirth.

Midwifery practice must always be based on the principles of professional conduct as stated in the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives.

In addition to the above, it is useful to have certain skills. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening skills, good problem-solving skills
  • Good judgement/intuition 
  • The ability to teach 
  • Effective multi-tasking

What are the benefits to becoming a member of the MAI?

By joining the MAI, you will have easy access to:

  • current evidence-based research
  • participation in study days accredited with CEUs
  • networking with fellow midwives and students
  • discounts with selected shops and suppliers