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  • Writer's pictureMR Waridah

Midwife: History, Definitions, and Roles


In practice, midwives stick to the paradigms in working to provide the best possible professional services. These paradigms are about views on humans (women), the environment, behaviour, health services, and heredity. The existence of midwives has its own history that began in ancient times, and continues to grow until now. This article aims to explain the history of midwifery, definitions, and the roles of midwives, especially in Indonesia.


The first practice of midwifery began in ancient times, to be precise during the Dutch East Indies era. At that time, it was known that maternal and child mortality rates were very high. The birth attendant at that time was a shaman. In 1807 (Daendels' Age), these shamans were trained in childbirth assistance, but this situation did not last long because there was no midwifery trainer (Sastrariah, 2016). Not only that, this training was also only intended for Dutch people in Indonesia. Then in 1849, the Java Batavia doctor education was opened (at the Dutch Military Hospital now). At that time, obstetrics had not been used as a subject. Then in 1889 by Straat, Obstetrics Austria and Masland, obstetrics was given voluntarily. Along with the opening of medical education, in 1851, midwifery education was opened for native women in Batavia by a Dutch military doctor, namely dr. Bosch.

Long story short, midwifery services were only implemented evenly and close to the community in 1990. This policy was made through an oral Presidential Instruction at the 1992 Cabinet Session regarding the need to educate midwives for the placement of midwives in villages. The main task of midwives in the village is to implement maternal and child health, especially in health services for pregnant women, childbirth and postpartum, as well as health services for newborns, including fostering traditional birth shamans (Sastrariah, 2016).


A midwife is someone who has attended a midwifery education program that is recognized in the country where the program is held, has successfully completed a specified set of midwifery education, and has obtained the necessary qualifications to be registered or legally obtain permission to practice midwifery (Sastrariah, 2016) . Another definition of a midwife according to RI Law no. 4 of 2019 is a woman who has completed a midwifery education program both domestically and abroad which is legally recognized by the Central Government and has fulfilled the requirements to practice midwifery.

Midwives, in practicing midwifery, have many roles. According to UU RI No. 4 (2019) about Midwifery, midwives can act as midwifery service providers, midwifery service managers, extension workers and counsellors, educators, mentors, and clinic facilitators; driving force for community participation and empowerment of women and/or researchers. The real form of the midwife's role includes counselling and health education, which is not only aimed at women, but also for families and communities. Other activities carried out by midwives include conducting antenatal education, preparing individuals who will become parents, education about sexual or reproductive health, and child care (Yanti & Eko, 2010). Midwives, in this case, are required to carry out midwifery practices in accordance with competence, authority, and comply with codes of ethics, professional standards, professional service standards, and standard operating procedures.


A midwife is a person who has attended a state-recognized midwifery education program, successfully completed a specified set of midwifery courses, and has acquired the necessary qualifications to be registered or legally licensed to practice midwifery. The practice of midwifery in Indonesia began during the Dutch East Indies era, when traditional healers were asked to help with deliveries. Now, midwifery practice has begun to be more evenly distributed. Midwives in practice can act as midwifery service providers to researchers. The activities carried out by midwives include conducting antenatal education, education on reproductive health, and child care. In this case, midwives are obliged to carry out midwifery practices according to predetermined standards.


Kementerian Kesehatan RI. (2019). Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 14 Tahun 2019 tentang Kebidanan. Diakses dari

Sastrariah. (2016). Konsep Kebidanan. Majene: Stikes Bina Bangsa

Yanti, & Eko, N. (2010). Etika Profesi dan Hukum Kebidanan. Universitas Singaperbangsa Karawang: Pustaka Rihama.

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