Revisiting the Hallmarks of Midwifery


The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection and introspection. What do we hope to accomplish in the coming year? What is most important to us as we choose and prioritize our goals? When contemplating these questions professionally as a midwife, the hallmarks of midwifery (Table 1) are an important source of guidance.

Table 1.  The Hallmarks of Midwiferya
  1. aSource: American College of Nurse-Midwives.1

Recognition of pregnancy, birth, and menopause as normal physiologic and developmental processes
Advocacy of nonintervention in the absence of complications
Incorporation of scientific evidence into clinical practice
Promotion of family-centered care
Empowerment of women as partners in health care
Facilitation of healthy family and interpersonal relationships
Promotion of continuity of care
Health promotion, disease prevention, and health education
Promotion of a public health care perspective
Care to vulnerable populations
Advocacy for informed choice, shared decision-making, and the right to self-determination
Cultural competence
Evaluation and incorporation of complementary and alternative therapies in education and practice
Skillful communication, guidance, and counseling
Therapeutic value of human presence
Collaboration with other members of the health care team

The hallmarks of midwifery identify essential aspects of the profession. They articulate the unique characteristics of midwifery. While the hallmarks are known to all mid-wives, the extent to which individual midwives think about them on a regular basis varies.

In reading the articles in this issue, the hallmarks of midwifery are present on every page. The management of mental health conditions described in Hackley's article2 requires skillful communication, guidance, and counseling. Schorn's review3 of methods to estimate postpartum blood loss seeks scientific evidence for how to best accomplish a task that must be performed at every birth. Skinner and Fourer4 examine collaboration with other members of the health care team, which is imperative for midwifery care. The Share with Women patient education handout5 discusses menopause, including the normalcy of this process, health promotion, and informed choice when considering hormone therapy.

Just as the hallmarks of midwifery are found throughout this issue, they are present in the professional lives of all midwives, whether they work as clinicians, educators, researchers, or a combination of these responsibilities. The beginning of the New Year is an opportune time to revisit the hallmarks. As you read the hallmarks found in Table 1, what does each one mean to you? How do the hallmarks translate into practice? Which hallmarks are part of your job? In which hallmarks are you excelling? Are there some at which you can do better? What new ideas do the hallmarks provide for your work? As you plan your professional goals for the coming year, consider making the hallmarks a part of your midwifery New Year's resolutions.