A midwife


Midwives assist women in childbirth by providing the necessary support, care, and advice during pregnancy, labour, and the postpartum period, conducting births and providing care for the newborn. They advise on health, preventive measures, preparation for parenthood, detection of complications in mother and child, accessing medical care, promoting normal birth, and carrying out emergency measures.

Here are the typical duties of a midwife:

  • Conduct routine prenatal check-ups to monitor the health and progress of pregnant women.
  • Provide guidance and support to expectant mothers on nutrition, exercise, and overall prenatal care.
  • Monitor fetal development and assess the well-being of the baby throughout pregnancy.
  • Offer education and counseling to expectant parents about the childbirth process and options for labor and delivery.
  • Assist during labor and delivery, providing physical and emotional support to the mother.
  • Monitor the progress of labor, including assessing contractions and the baby’s heart rate.
  • Provide pain management techniques during childbirth, such as relaxation techniques or administering pain medication as appropriate.
  • Help facilitate natural childbirth techniques and support the mother’s birth plan, when possible.
  • Identify and respond to any complications or medical emergencies that may arise during labor or delivery.
  • Provide postpartum care to both the mother and newborn, including monitoring recovery and offering guidance on infant care.
  • Offer breastfeeding support and assistance to new mothers.
  • Collaborate with obstetricians, gynecologists, and other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive care for pregnant women.
  • Educate women and families on family planning, reproductive health, and healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Participate in community health programs to promote maternal and child health.
  • Keep detailed records of prenatal care, labor, and postpartum care for each patient.
  • Stay updated on the latest advancements and best practices in midwifery through continuing education and professional development.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to midwife:

head of midwifery services
pre-natal nurse
midwife researcher
foetal nurse
community midwife
intensive care neonatal nurse
consultant midwife
childbirth assistant
obstetric nurse

Working conditions

Midwives work in various settings, including hospitals, birthing centers, clinics, and home-based practices. They may have flexible work hours, as childbirth can occur at any time. The job can be physically demanding, involving long hours on their feet during labor and delivery support. Midwives must also be emotionally supportive and have strong communication skills to provide care with empathy and understanding.

Minimum qualifications

To become a midwife, individuals can pursue different paths depending on their country’s regulations and the specific type of midwifery practice. In many countries, midwives can obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in midwifery from an accredited university or institution. After completing their education, they may need to pass a licensing or certification exam to become a registered or certified midwife. In some cases, midwives may also start their careers as registered nurses and then pursue additional training and certification in midwifery. Practical experience gained through internships, clinical rotations, and supervised practice is essential for becoming a skilled and competent midwife.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Midwife is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Midwife career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to midwife.

specialist pharmacist
specialist biomedical scientist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of midwife.

  • Hygiene in a health care setting: The procedures related to maintaining a hygienic environment within a health care setting such as hospitals and clinics. It can range from hand washing to cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment used and infection control methods.
  • Microbiology-bacteriology: Microbiology-Bacteriology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Childbirth: The process of delivering a baby, the symptoms and signs of labour, the expulsion of the baby and all the related steps and procedures, including the ones related to complications and pre-mature birth.
  • Health care legislation: The patients` rights and responsibilities of health practitioners and the possible repercussions and prosecutions in relation to medical treatment negligence or malpractice.
  • Lactation: The physiology and function of the breast during lactation as appropriate for counselling the pregnant and postpartum woman.
  • Obstetric ultrasonography: The various types of sonography and the information provided when applied to obstetrics such as dating and growth of the pregnancy and visualising the fetus in its mother womb.
  • Health care occupation-specific ethics: The moral standards and procedures, ethical questions and obligations specific to occupations in a healthcare setting, such as respect for human dignity, self-determination, informed consent and patient confidentiality.
  • Analgesics: The types of medication used to relieve pain in various medical cases.
  • Neonatology: The branch of paediatric medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of the newborn.
  • Pregnancy: The process related to conception and development of the fetus in the mother`s womb, the symptoms of pregnancy, risks and complications, diseases and timing of childbirth.
  • Pharmacology: Pharmacology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Postpartum period: The changes and possible problems that can occur in the six-week period after birth.
  • Resuscitation: The emergency procedure applied to individuals with no pulse to restore them to consciousness.
  • Radiological procedures: The radiological procedures with digital imaging and other imaging techniques.
  • Health education: The factors affecting health and of the educational approach to assisting people to make healthy life choices.
  • Human anatomy: The dynamic relationship of human structure and function and the muscosceletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, urinary, reproductive, integumentary and nervous systems; normal and altered anatomy and physiology throughout the human lifespan.
  • Epidemiology: The branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution and control of diseases. The disease aetiology, transmission, outbreak investigation, and comparisons of treatment effects.
  • Relaxation techniques: The various methods and techniques used to alleviate stress and bring peace and relaxation to the body and mind. This includes activities such as yoga, qigong or t`ai chi.
  • Psychology: The human behaviour and performance with individual differences in ability, personality, interests, learning, and motivation.
  • Preparation for parenthood: The changes, such as the psychological aspects, affecting the parents after childbirth.
  • Sex education: Provide information and advice related to human sexual reproduction, emotional relations between sexual partners, birth control and human sexuality in general.
  • Female reproductive system pathology: The diseases of the female reproductive system, such as ovary, vulva and vaginal cancers, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts and diseases of the placenta.
  • Pathology: The components of a disease, the cause, mechanisms of development, morphologic changes, and the clinical consequences of those changes.
  • Embryology: The normal development of the embryo, the aetiology of developmental anomalies such as genetic aspects and organogenesis and the natural history of abnormalities diagnosed before birth.
  • Postpartum legal protection: The legal aspects related to maternity coverage offered to mothers after childbirth.
  • Dietetics: The human nutrition and dietary modification for optimising health in clinical or other environments. The role of nutrition in promoting health and preventing illness across the life spectrum.
  • Preparation for child delivery: The procedures to follow for delivering babies and the needed technical equipment in obstetrics.
  • Anaesthetics: Anaesthetics is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of midwife.

  • Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
  • Educate on the prevention of illness: Offer evidence-based advice on how to avoid ill health, educate and advise individuals and their carers on how to prevent ill health and/or be able to advise how to improve their environment and health conditions. Provide advice on the identification of risks leading to ill health and help to increase the patients’ resilience by targeting prevention and early intervention strategies.
  • Inform policy makers on health-related challenges: Provide useful information related to health care professions to ensure policy decisions are made in the benefit of communities.
  • Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
  • Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
  • Examine the new-born infant: Perform a neonatal examination to identify any danger signs, to assess the normal adaptations of a newborn after birth and to identify birth defects or birth trauma.
  • Collect biological samples from patients: Follow recommended processes to collect bodily fluids or samples from patients for further laboratory testing, assisting the patient as required.
  • Provide pre-natal care: Monitor the normal progression of pregnancy and development of foetus by prescribing regular check-ups for prevention, detection and treatment of health problems throughout the course of the pregnancy.
  • Advise on family planning: Provide advice on the use of birth control and methods of contraception available, on sexual education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted diseases, pre-conception counselling and fertility management.
  • Empathise with the woman’s family during and after pregnancy: Demonstrate empathy with women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth labour and in the postpartum period.
  • Advise on pregnancy: Counsel patients on normal changes occurring in pregnancy, providing advice on nutrition, drug effects and other lifestyle changes.
  • Assess the course of breast-feeding period: Evaluate and monitor the breastfeeding activity of a mother to her newly born child.
  • Manage healthcare users’ data: Keep accurate client records that also satisfy legal and professional standards and ethical obligations in order to facilitate client management, ensuring that all clients’ data (including verbal, written and electronic) are treated confidentially.
  • Deal with emergency care situations: Assess the signs and be well-prepared for a situation that poses an immediate threat to a person’s health, security, property or environment.
  • Provide health education: Provide evidence based strategies to promote healthy living, disease prevention and management.
  • Provide information on the effects of childbirth on sexuality: Provide information to the mother or her family on the effects of childbirth on sexual behaviour.
  • Monitor pregnancy: Carry out the examinations necessary for the monitoring of normal pregnancy.
  • Follow clinical guidelines: Follow agreed protocols and guidelines in support of healthcare practice which are provided by healthcare institutions, professional associations, or authorities and also scientific organisations.
  • Carry out treatment prescribed by doctors: Ensure the treatment prescribed by the doctor is being followed by the patient and answer any related questions.
  • Provide education on family life: Provide culturally sensitive health education and services, focusing on women, families and community and promoting healthy family life, and pregnancy planning.
  • Prescribe medication: Prescribe medications, when indicated, for therapeutic effectiveness, appropriate to the client`s needs and in accordance with evidence-based practice, national and practice protocols and within scope of practice.
  • Provide postnatal care: Provide care to the mother and the new-born child following birth, ensuring that the new-born and the mother are healthy and that the mother is capable of taking care of her new-born.
  • Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patient feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
  • Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
  • Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, ask questions as appropriate, and not interrupt at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully to the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
  • Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department-specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
  • Advise on pregnancies at risk: Identify and provide advice on the early signs of risk pregnancies.
  • Care for the new-born infant: Take care of the newly born baby by performing actions such as feeding him/her at regular hours, checking his/her vital signs and changing diapers.
  • Provide pregnancy termination care: Strive to accommodate the physical and psychological needs of a woman undergoing an abortion.
  • Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
  • Address problems critically: Identify the strengths and weaknesses of various abstract, rational concepts, such as issues, opinions, and approaches related to a specific problematic situation in order to formulate solutions and alternative methods of tackling the situation.
  • Promote inclusion: Promote inclusion in health care and social services and respect diversity of beliefs, culture, values and preferences, keeping in mind the importance of equality and diversity issues.
  • Provide care for the mother during labour: Actively manage women in labour, prescribing and administering pain relief medication as needed and providing emotional support and comfort for the mother.
  • Take emergency measures in pregnancy: Perform the manual removal of the placenta, and the manual examination of the uterus in emergency cases, when the doctor is not present.
  • Provide treatment strategies for challenges to human health: Identify possible treatment protocols for the challenges to human health within a given community in cases such as infectious diseases of high consequences at the global level.
  • Support informed consent: Make sure patients and their families are fully informed about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments or procedures so they can give informed consent, engaging patients and their families in the process of their care and treatment.
  • Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
  • Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
  • Assist on pregnancy abnormality: Support the mother in case of abnormality signs during the pregnancy period and call the doctor in emergency cases.
  • Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
  • Provide preparation for childbirth: Provide information to the mother-to-be related to the childbirth procedures in order to be prepared and know what to expect.
  • Apply context specific clinical competences: Apply professional and evidence-based assessment, goal setting, delivery of intervention and evaluation of clients, taking into account the developmental and contextual history of the clients, within one`s own scope of practice.
  • Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare-related professions.
  • Conduct spontaneous child deliveries: Carry out spontaneous child delivery, managing the stress related to the event and all the risks and complications that may arise, performing operations such as episiotomies and breech deliveries, where required.
  • Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.
  • Advise on control of conception: Provide advice on the various types of methods used to prevent pregnancy such as contraceptives or condoms.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of midwife. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Yoga: The practice and principles of yoga, used as physical techniques to relax the body and mind.
  • Phytotherapy: The characteristics, the effects and the use of herbal medicines.
  • Surgery: The essential procedures in surgical practice such as the principle of safe surgery, the pathophysiology of wound healing, knot tying, tissue handling, retraction and any other instruments and procedures used in the operating room.
  • Sociology: The group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Pedagogy: The discipline that concerns the theory and practice of education including the various instructional methods for educating individuals or groups.
  • Homeopathy: The alternative medicine whereby pills or liquid mixtures containing only a little of an active ingredient (usually a plant or mineral) can treat a disease.
  • Company policies: The set of rules that govern the activity of a company.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of midwife. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Apply acupuncture: Use procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques, such as penetrating the skin with thin, metallic needles manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation in order to relieve pain or achieve other therapeutic benefits.
  • Employ foreign languages for health-related research: Use foreign languages for conducting and collaborating in health-related research.
  • Employ foreign languages in care: Communicate in foreign languages with healthcare users, their carers, or service providers. Use foreign languages to facilitate patient care according to the needs of the patient.

ISCO group and title

2222 – Midwifery professionals

  1. Midwife – ESCO
  2. Midwifery education and care – Material Health Unit – World Health Organization
  3. Featured image: Photo by 东旭 王 on Unsplash
Last updated on July 30, 2023