Midwife or Health Visitor! Do You Know the Difference?


Whilst working with many clients, it has become evident that the differences between a midwife & a health visitor are sometimes confused; so, I have decided to explain the roles in this month’s article.

A midwife is a person who has undertaken a degree course leading to a midwifery qualification or a registered adult nurse with additional training in midwifery practice.

S/he works in partnership with women, their partners/families providing support, care & advice during the antenatal period, labour & postnatal period; enabling women to make informed choices about their care. This includes health education, health promotion, counselling, completing clinical tests, promoting natural births, identifying abnormalities in mother or baby & carrying out treatments prescribed by a doctor.

S/he may work in a maternity unit, with GP’s in the community, birth centres, children’s/health centres, private maternity hospitals or independently; with other health care professionals, support staff & social care services.

Hospital midwives are usually based in a hospital obstetric or consultant unit, birth centres, midwife led units; in the antenatal clinic, labour & postnatal wards. Community midwives work in teams, providing continuity of care antenatally & postnatally to a caseload of women, at home or in a clinic. They provide home births & visits, usually discharging mother & baby around day 10, however, they can offer support until 28 days.

Private midwives work independently of the NHS, are self-employed & charge fees for their services. You can choose to have combined care provided by both the NHS & a private midwife. Please discuss your options with your midwife (Royal College of Midwives).

What is a Health Visitor?

A health visitor is a registered nurse or midwife, who has also undertaken community public health nursing training & is employed by the NHS or a social enterprise. They provide an evidence-based service for individuals, families, groups & the community, promoting health & reducing health inequalities.

A universal family focused service is offered to all expectant parents during the antenatal period, until the child is 5 years old & vulnerable individuals according to need. Some health visitors work with the 0-19 population & lead a team of staff e.g. community staff nurses, nursery nurses & admin staff. Services are offered from GP surgeries, children’s centres, community/health centres & the family home (Institute of Health Visiting 2018).

Families can expect at least five reviews, which are:

* Antenatal, from 28 weeks of pregnancy,

* New birth visit, between 10–14 days,

* 6-8 week review of mother & baby,

* 1 year review &

* 2 – 2.5 year review.

These are part of the Healthy Child Programme (2009) which aims to improve the health & well-being of children, through health & developmental reviews, health promotion, health education, parenting support, screening, immunisations, detecting ill-health, emotional well-being & safeguarding. Services are usually available Monday – Friday, 9 – 5pm.

Private health visitors work independently like private midwives & can also provide the above care. At IHVOL, we provide bespoke services to meet your needs e.g. antenatal/postnatal support, pregnancy loss, emotional well-being, infant feeding, transition to parenthood, sleep support; in the comfort of your home, during evenings & weekends.

Both midwives & health visitors are overseen by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), the statutory body which confirms professional registration upon qualification & ensures continued competence throughout practice.


Regarding last month’s article on Mental Health & Fatherhood, the NHS has agreed that partners of new & expectant women who have depression or anxiety, will be offered mental health assessments!

This article is sponsored by Independent health visitors. Check their website for more information. Read more related posts here.