The role and scope of contemporary midwifery practice in Australia: A scoping review of the literature

Watkins, Vanessa, Nagle, Cate, Yates, Karen, McAuliffe, Marie, Brown, Lesley, Byrne, Misha, and Waters, Anna (2023) The role and scope of contemporary midwifery practice in Australia: A scoping review of the literature. Women and Birth, 36 (4). pp. 334-340.

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Problem: Little is known about the breadth of midwifery scope within Australia, and few midwives work to their full scope of practice.

Background: Midwives in Australia are educated and professionally accountable to work in partnership with childbearing women and their families, yet they are currently hindered from practicing within their full scope of practice by contextual influences.

Aims: To perform a scoping review of the literature to map out the role and scope of contemporary midwifery practice in Australia

To identify any key issues that impact upon working within the full scope of midwifery practice in the Australian context

Methods: A scoping review of the literature guided by the Arksey and O’Malley’s five-stage methodological framework, and the ‘best fit’ framework synthesis using the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s Midwifery Standards for Practice.

Findings: Key themes that emerged from the review included Partnership with women; The professional role of the midwife; and Contextual influences upon midwifery practice.

Discussion: Tensions were identified between the midwifery scope of practice associated with optimal outcomes for women and babies supported by current evidence and the actual role and scope of most midwives employed in models of care in the current Australian public healthcare system.

Conclusions: There is a mismatch between the operational parameters for midwifery practice in Australia and the evidence-based models of continuity of midwifery carer that are associated with optimal outcomes for childbearing women and babies and the midwives themselves.

Item ID: 71310
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1878-1799
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Australian College of Midwives. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Date Deposited: 23 May 2023 22:26
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4204 Midwifery > 420499 Midwifery not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200509 Women's and maternal health @ 100%
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