International Code of Ethics For Midwives:
© 1996 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.
[Editor's note: This article first
Midwifery Today Issue 40, Winter 1996.]
Confederation of Midwives invites your comments on its Code of Ethics.
Please answer the following questions and address your response to Secretary
General, International Confederation, 10 Barley Mow Passage, Chiswick, London W4
4PH, England: 1. Are there any noticeable gaps in the ICM Code as written? 2.
Are there any words or phrases in the ICM Code that are confusing or
inappropriate? Please list them and explain. 3. If you have had the opportunity
to use the ICM Code, please comment on its usefulness and give examples.
The aim of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) is to
improve the standard of care provided to women, babies and families throughout
the world through the development, education, and appropriate utilization of the
professional midwife. In keeping with its aim of women's health and focus on the
midwife, the ICM sets forth the following code to guide the education, practice
and research of the midwife. This code acknowledges women as persons, seeks
justice for all people and equity in access to health care, and is based on
mutual relationships of respect, trust, and the dignity of all members of
I. Midwifery Relationships
- Midwives respect a woman's informed right of choice and promote the
woman's acceptance of responsibility for the outcomes of her choices.
- Midwives work with women, supporting their right to participate actively
in decisions about their care, and empowering women to speak for themselves on
issues affecting the health of women and their families in their
- Midwives, together with women, work with policy and funding agencies to
define women's needs for health services and to ensure that resources are
fairly allocated considering priorities and availability.
- Midwives support and sustain each other in their professional roles, and
actively nurture their own and others' sense of self-worth.
- Midwives work with other health professionals, consulting and referring as
necessary when the woman's need for care exceeds the competencies of the
- Midwives recognize the human interdependence within their field of
practice and actively seek to resolve inherent conflicts.
II. Practice of Midwifery
- Midwives provide care for women and childbearing families with respect for
cultural diversity while also working to eliminate harmful practices within
those same cultures.
- Midwives encourage realistic expectations of childbirth by women within
their own society, with the minimum expectation that no women should be harmed
by conception or childbearing.
- Midwives use their professional knowledge to ensure safe birthing
practices in all environments and cultures.
- Midwives respond to the psychological, physical, emotional and spiritual
needs of women seeking health care, whatever their circumstances.
- Midwives act as effective role models in health promotion for women
throughout their life cycle, for families and for other health professionals.
- Midwives actively seek personal, intellectual and professional growth
throughout their midwifery career, integrating this growth into their
III. The Professional Responsibilities of Midwives
- Midwives hold in confidence client information in order to protect the
right to privacy, and use judgment in sharing this information.
- Midwives are responsible for their decisions and actions, and are
accountable for the related outcomes in their care of women.
- Midwives may refuse to participate in activities for which they hold deep
moral opposition; however, the emphasis on individual conscience should not
deprive women of essential health services.
- Midwives participate in the development and implementation of health
policies that promote the health of all women and childbearing families.
IV. Advancement of Midwifery Knowledge and Practice
- Midwives ensure that the advancement of midwifery knowledge is based on
activities that protect the rights of women as persons.
- Midwives develop and share midwifery knowledge through a variety of
processes, such as peer review and research.
- Midwives participate in the formal education of midwifery students and