The NMC Code and its application to the role of the midwife in antenatal care: a student perspective

02 December 2020
10 min read
Volume 28 · Issue 12


The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code provides the foundational ‘values and principles’ a midwife should follow throughout their practice. This article discusses the application of the four pillars of the Code – prioritise people, practice effectively, preserve safety, and promote leadership and trust – to the role of the midwife in antenatal care. In providing holistic care facilitated through communication, a midwife can demonstrate advocacy, accountability, competency and leadership to provide quality, safe care to women. However, following the Code is not always straightforward; organisational demands are often in opposition with NMC values. This article discusses the midwife's duty to reconcile these juxtapositions, fulfilling the needs of their employer whilst upholding the requirements of the professional body.

Midwives are autonomous practitioners who are experts in normal pregnancy and birth (Horton and Astudillo, 2014; NMC, 2015a). Antenatally, midwives care for women in pregnancy from conception to established labour (Fraser and Cooper, 2012; Flint and Lambert, 2015) across community and hospital settings. As professionals, midwives are expected to conduct themselves appropriately in their practice, ethics, and education. The NMC Code provides the ‘values and principles’ (NMC, 2015b) expected of a midwife, underpinning their role. As a midwifery student, gaining an understanding of the Code provides a holistic foundation for studies. However, organisational values can juxtapose professional values.

This article will consider the role of the midwife in antenatal care, exploring the tension between the NMC's values and organisational demands (Duncan, 2010). As the antenatal period is the first time many families will engage in sustained contact with health services (Cumberlege, 2016), exhibiting these values is key in promoting trust in midwifery. Demonstrating how a midwife should act as an advocate, be accountable, practice competently and show leadership, this article will consider the Code's four themes of prioritising people, practicing effectively, preserving safety and promoting leadership and trust in relation to organisational demands, concluding with their application to student midwifery.

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