Diversity in the Scope and Practice of Hospital-Based Midwives in the Netherlands
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
© 2012 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives
Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health
Volume 57, Issue 5, pages 469–475, September/October 2012
How to Cite
Cronie, D., Rijnders, M. and Buitendijk, S. (2012), Diversity in the Scope and Practice of Hospital-Based Midwives in the Netherlands. Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health, 57: 469–475. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00164.x
- Issue published online: 6 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2012
- clinical midwife;
- diversity/scope of practice;
- midwife autonomy;
- midwife role;
Introduction: Not all midwives in the Netherlands are independent practitioners. One in 4 midwives registered to practice is employed in the hospital setting, where 67% of all births occur. There has not yet been an in-depth examination of hospital-based midwives’ practice in the Netherlands, in the context of care in a higher-risk environment. The primary aims of this study were to describe the diversity and scope of practice of hospital-based midwives in the Netherlands.
Methods: This was an online survey of all hospitals throughout the Netherlands with labor/birthing rooms and employing hospital-based midwives. The survey covered 5 topic areas: demographic/organizational details, duties, responsibilities, experience/additional qualifications, and how the midwife functioned within the multidisciplinary hospital team. Descriptive statistics are provided.
Results: A total of 59 secondary and tertiary level hospitals from a possible total of 98 were included for analysis (60% national response rate). Forty percent of all births occurring during the study period were managed solely by a hospital midwife. The provision of midwifery care in the hospital setting was not universal, and where present, hospital-based midwives were not necessarily available 24 hours a day or 7 days a week. Hospital-based midwives reported a high level of autonomy.
Discussion: Currently there is no universal provision of midwifery care in the hospital setting in the Netherlands. Where there are hospital-based midwives, they appear to manage the majority of births. However, there are no nationally agreed-upon standards for midwifery practice in the hospital setting, and no agreement exists over minimum requirements relating to additional education for midwives in these settings. A national evaluation and setting of minimum standards is needed.