Current midwifery practice is regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), whose primary role is to safeguard the public through setting standards for education and practice and regulating fitness to practise, conduct and performance through rules and codes (NMC, 2012; 2015a). Practice is informed by evidence-based guidelines developed and implemented by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence based on hierarchies of evidence, with meta-analyses and systematic reviews being identified as the ‘gold standard’. This positivist epistemological approach as developed by Auguste Comte (1798–1857), with scientific evidence at the top of a knowledge hierarchy, fails to acknowledge the ‘art of midwifery’, where a constructivist paradigm of experiential, intuitive and tacit knowledge is used by reflective practitioners to provide high-quality care. As midwifery pre-registration education is now degree-level, is the essence of midwifery practice being ‘with woman’ providing holistic care under threat, as the drive for a systematic and analytical approach to decision-making gathers momentum?
- Contemporary midwifery practice