Midwives assist women, their children and their families throughout pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and breastfeeding, while also counseling women on matters of family planning. They perform their tasks, including those dealing with physiological processes, independently and autonomously, without instructions from a doctor. In Germany, a midwife, but not necessarily a doctor, must be present at every birth. The postpartum period also requires the presence of a midwife.
Midwives consider the reproductive process (everything having to do with childbearing) primarily as a healthy, vital and meaningful chapter in a woman's life in which the needs, resources and self-determination of the woman attended stand in the foreground.
The midwifery programme of study is run in cooperation with health care institutions responsible for peripartum care (hospitals, birth centers and midwifery practices). The eight semester programme of study includes 3000 hours of integrated practice. Currently, the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences is setting up a midwifery skills lab so that students can learn the skills and abilities they need through targeted, practical instruction.
In the programme students learn a science-based form of midwifery practice. They learn to advise and assist women and their relatives during family planning, pregnancy, birth, postpartum and early family stage, to assist during normal, complication-free births; to recognise labor complications early; to care for newborns; to monitor events during postpartum, and to keep proper records during the birthing process. The goal of the programme is to train students to practice science-based midwifery as “reflective practitioners.”
Upon successful completion students receive a Bachelor of Science in Midwifery, pass the State Midwifery Examination and receive state approval to hold a professional license as a midwife. With this they are able to work as midwives in Germany and throughout Europe.
The programme's philosophy is that students must learn how to make clinical decisions in concrete situations concerning the care of pregnant women, birthing women, new mothers and newborns. Such decisions presuppose an understanding of physiological or pathological processes; need to be made on the basis of a consideration of current scientific knowledge; must take into account the needs and wishes of those affected; and finally must be put into practice.