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(mĭd`wī'fərē), art of assisting at childbirth. The term midwife for centuries referred to a woman who was an overseer during the process of delivery. In ancient Greece and Rome, these women had some formal training. As the medical arts declined during medieval times, however, the skills a midwife possessed were gained solely from experience, and the lore was passed on through generations. With the upsurge of medical science about the 16th cent., the delivery of babies was accepted into the province of physicians, and as formal training and licensing of medical practitioners became more prevalent, these requirements extended also to women still engaged in midwifery. At this time professional schools of midwifery were established in Europe. Midwifery was only recognized as an important branch of medicine, however, when the practice of obstetrics was established. In the United States, due to rising medical costs and a burgeoning interest in natural childbirth and more personalized care, there has been a resurgence of interest in midwifery since the early 1970s.

Contemporary midwives attend births in hospitals and birthing centers as well as at home. Most midwives are registered nurses who have completed additional training in accredited institutions. Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) can practice in all 50 states. Many are trained to deal with other gynecological issues, such as birth control and menopausal problems. Lay-midwives usually train by apprenticeship and are regulated by local statutes that limit what services they may perform.


See J. Litoff, The American Midwife Debate (1986).

References in periodicals archive ?
The annual day raises awareness and increases visibility of the value of midwifery services in providing maternity care services to women, newborns and their families.
In response, UNFPA is expanding midwifery services to support resilient health systems in the affected countries.
The Department of Health and Public Health England (PHE) have announced that responsibility for public health nursing and midwifery leadership will transfer to PHE from April, replacing the current joint arrangement between the department and PHE.
This revival developed into a public push for regulation by both midwives and midwifery consumers.
Debra K's passion for educating on natural health and wellness options led her to feature Frontier Nursing University in the pilot episode of The Journey into Wellbeing, “I hold a special place in my heart for midwifery after learning the story of Mary Breckinridge who founded and ran Frontier Nursing University 75 years ago this year.
From this vantage point, it is hard to fathom the antipathy to autonomous midwifery practice that prevailed in the late '80s and '90s, as midwifery fought to extricate itself from the medicalisation and "nursification" of childbirth.
Could this have anything to do with the standard of training today's midwifery students receive ?
Midwifery is a health care profession distinct from nursing.
You need to complete a degree in midwifery, leading to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Midwifery education in New Zealand is delivered in tertiary institutions with the clinical component undertaken in partnership with practising midwives in both hospital and community settings.
Summary: DUBAI - Under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Chairperson of Dubai Healthcare City Authority, the UAE Nursing and Midwifery Council in cooperation with UAE Nursing Association and the Ministry of Health, organised on Wednesday the first midwifery and nursing first conference under the title "Nursing and Midwifery Future in UAE.
A BIRMINGHAM university has reported a 13 per cent surge in Midwifery applications on the back of a hit show about the profession.