Midwifery in New Zealand works in partnership with the woman and her whānau throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the first six weeks post-birth.
Midwives play a vital role in New Zealand’s health care. They are at the birth of every baby in Aotearoa New Zealand – in homes, in primary maternity units; in hospitals. Walking alongside women, partners and whānau, on their journey through pregnancy to parenthood.
The care from midwives in New Zealand is predominately provided by community-based midwives practising a continuity of care model. This is supported by employed midwives working in primary, secondary and tertiary maternity facilities.
Midwifery in New Zealand has been an autonomous profession since 1990. The New Zealand College of Midwives held a webinar to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the introduction of the Nurses Amendment act.
Watch the webinar: ‘Embracing midwifery, reflecting on 30 years of midwifery autonomy’
Roles in midwifery
Midwives work in a variety of roles including:
- Lead Maternity Carer and District Health Board community teams – Community based midwife in urban, rural and remote rural settings
- Associate/Charge Midwives
- Diabetes Specialist Midwife
- Midwifery Educator
- Pregnancy/Perinatal loss support
- Lactation Consultant
- Director of Midwifery
- Maternity Quality Coordinator
- Midwifery Advisors at the Midwifery Council, the Ministry of Health and the Health Quality and Safety Commission
Becoming a midwife
Midwives provide care and support to women, their partners and whānau/family during pregnancy, labour and birth, and for six weeks following the birth. They also provide wellness and parenting information and education for women and their whānau/families.
Since 1992 Midwifery education has been offered via a four year equivalent, pre-registration Bachelor of Midwifery programme, that can be completed over three years.
There are five accredited pre-registration midwifery programmes currently available in New Zealand and are provided by:
- Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland
- Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), Hamilton
- Ara Institute of Canterbury (ARA), Christchurch
- Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin
- Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
All the education providers offer post-graduate courses for Registered Midwives. Find out more about study grants and opportunities.
For more information on becoming a midwife in New Zealand, visit:
Te ara ō Hine is a new initiative underway to support and increase Māori and Pasifika midwifery students.
The programme will provide pastoral care, academic support, and financial aid to Māori and Pasifika midwifery students across the five midwifery schools in New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka, Otago Polytechnic, Ara Institute of Canterbury (Ara) and Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec).
Funding will enable at least one lead support provider at each of the schools, built-in tutoring and guidance, and annual hui to help build relationships and a national network of Māori and Pasifika students. The dedicated person/people leading this pastoral and academic support will also focus on actively recruiting new Māori and Pasifika midwifery students.
A discretionary hardship fund will be available to help meet the needs of maternity students while they complete their studies, managed by each of the schools.
Te ara ō Hine aims to address some of the challenges faced for midwifery students during their studies, increase the number of midwives in our workforce, and help ensure that workforce represents the communities our midwives are serving.
The programme is the result of collaboration between the Ministry of Health, midwives, Māori and Pasifika faculty, current students and recent graduates from each of the five schools. AUT holds the contract with the Ministry of Health and has a memorandum of understanding with the four other education providers.
- Read the announcement from Associate Minister for Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall
- Read the press release from AUT
Focus on midwifery
Dr Billie Bradford
Billie Bradford is a Lecturer in Midwifery in The School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Practice. She has extensive midwifery experience practicing since 1998. Billie spent 10 years as a clinical educator teaching obstetric emergency skills management as well as writing maternity policy and protocols at Midcentral Health. For 10 years Billie was local coordinator for the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC) leading perinatal mortality review at Midcentral. This sparked a research interest in stillbirth prevention and maternal perception of fetal movements.
Billie completed a Masters in Midwifery at Victoria University of Wellington in 2014 with a thesis titled 'Maternally Perceived Fetal movements: A qualitative description'. In 2020 she completed a PhD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University of Auckland with a thesis titled 'Fetal Movements in Normal and Complicated Pregnancies'.
Billie is an Expert Midwifery Advisor to the Health Disability Commissioner and a Competence Reviewer for the Midwifery Council of New Zealand. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) and the Clinical Advisory Board of StillAware. Billie is passionate about perinatal care improvement and the importance of an optimal start to life for lifelong health and wellbeing. Her ongoing research is focused on fetal wellbeing and stillbirth prevention and in particular on circadian fetal behaviour.
Research and publications
Below are the publications that represent Billie’s research. This research led to the development of the sleep on side campaign.
- Association between maternally perceived quality and pattern of fetal movements and late stillbirth
- A diurnal fetal movement pattern: Findings from a cross-sectional study of maternally perceived fetal movements in the third trimester of pregnancy
- Stillbirth research: Recruitment barriers and participant feedback