Midwifery, practice and science


Midwives Committee of the Cyprus Nurses and Midwives Association

Cyprus Nursing and Midwifery Council

Midwives' Association “Philotokos”

Cyprus University of Technology, Department of Nursing, School of Health Sciences


Communities, groups, bearers concerned

First and foremost, Midwifery, as practice and science in the Republic of Cyprus, is exercised, both in the private and public sector, by midwives who are currently represented by collective bodies (Cyprus Nursing and Midwifery Council, Midwives Committee). Training and scientific documentation in the field of midwifery are offered as postgraduate programmes by the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) and the European University of Cyprus.  Students of the MSc in Midwifery programmes acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to offer qualitative and evidence-based midwifery care.

In addition to midwives, who are the main bearers of midwifery in Cyprus, there are also other groups or NGOs that promote the transmission of knowledge and practice in the field, such as Birth Forward that supports natural childbirth as an integral part of a low risk pregnancy and the Cyprus Breastfeeding Association “Gift for Life” that promotes breastfeeding as the best nourishment for infants.

Finally, midwifery care and guidance affects every woman, couple and family, and, generally, all those who bring a new life into the world and who are trying to respond to the multiple needs (physical and psychological) that this role entails.


Domain of ICH:

Social practices, rituals and festive events

Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe


Date of inscription:



Geographical location and range of the element

Midwifery is practiced everywhere in Cyprus. In the past, women gave birth wherever they were, in their homes or their vicinity (e.g. the yard, a field etc.) usually with the help of a practical midwife, called mammu in the Cypriot dialect, but also with the help of other women.  The mammu, using her practical experience, guided the birth and determined what had to be done both during labour, after birth and the puerperium. After 1932, trained midwives who monitored pregnant women, helped them to give birth but also referred them to gynaecologists/hospitals, if needed, were found in both cities and villages/regions. Later, women living in cities had access to more organised bodies and subsequently to public and private hospitals (depending on their financial situation).  Women living on mountainous areas remained under the care of trained midwives and acquired access to hospitals much later.

Today, and in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery legislation but also Directive 2013/55 of the EU, Midwifery is an autonomous profession.  In state hospitals, midwives monitor low risk pregnancies independently, carry out natural childbirths and look after high risk pregnancies, puerperae and new-borns, while also promoting breastfeeding. They also advise and guide women and families on reproductive and sexual health. State hospitals have created natural childbirth rooms to support natural birth and reduce unnecessary surgical procedures, where the reporting professional is the midwife.

Even though the legislation stipulates the autonomy of the midwife as a profession, in the private sector this autonomy is limited.  The upgrading of the role of midwives is anticipated with the inclusion of midwifery as a contracting profession with the Health Insurance Organisation of Cyprus where women shall have direct access to midwives.



Women give birth; they bear new life. Since time immemorial women, with the help of other women in their tribe, society, village, give birth to their children into the world.  The midwife was that woman who, due to her special skills and later on her special training, supported and helped women through labour and undertook a leading part during birth.

Midwives were always closely connected to motherhood while midwifery is as old as human existence.  Ancient finds bear witness that labour has always been in the hands of women who were assisted by divine forces.  Based on finds and testimonials from various eras we are led to the conclusion that Midwives played an important role in the care of expectant mothers and women in labour in Cyprus. 

In addition, they were valued and respectful members of society and they viewed their profession as a vocation offering their knowledge and services indiscriminately to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

Midwives know the female body and emotions, they trust these; they are insightful and empower women to use their own powers and skills on this journey. During labour they are the link between the partners / the couple, guiding women in labour but also their partners and/or other members of their family who may be present. They show love and respect towards women and their families helping them lay solid foundations for the future. The timeless process of natural childbirth is the crowning achievement of both women and midwives. Even though this process is now based completely on scientifically documented theory and evidence-based practice it has not ceased to be a ritual passage from living in the womb to living outside the womb and connected to customs, practices and symbolisms involving all senses but also to the interaction between a woman and a midwife and between midwives themselves. The role of midwives, albeit extensive and multifaceted, may be divided into four large categories for explanatory and descriptive purposes:

Before pregnancy: Midwives promote reproductive health, including sexual health, contraception, family planning, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and others.

During pregnancy: They monitor pregnancies, both independently and as members of an interdisciplinary healthcare team, and carry out clinical measurements and tests, contribute to screening programmes, identify pathological conditions, empower and prepare women for labour and breastfeeding, provide guidance on healthy eating and physical well-being, establish healthy attitudes and behaviours during pregnancy so that pregnant women and embryos are not stressed in any way. Midwives prepare future parents on their parental role and support psychologically women, their partners and their wider families.

Labour / Birth: They manage normal birth independently helping women with low-risk pregnancies deliver naturally.  They identify any pathological or urgent conditions during labour /birth and cooperate with other members of the interdisciplinary team, undertaking a main role.  They promote breastfeeding and parental bonding immediately after birth.

After birth:  They monitor and look after puerperae, having a primary role in the prevention and early diagnosis of complications such as haemorrhage, infections, psychological impact and others.  As members of the interdisciplinary team they undertake the monitoring and care of neonates and help to successfully establish breastfeeding.

The practice of midwifery in Cyprus is nowadays governed by a relevant Legislation that has been harmonised with the European legislation (the Nursing and Midwifery Laws of 1988/2021 (basic and amending laws) and requires registration in the Midwives Registry as well as a Licence to Practice the Profession that is renewed every 4 years upon the presentation of supporting evidence of knowledge and practice. Midwives in Cyprus are scientifically trained, educated and working according to international standards. They are capable of providing skilful, qualitative and safe healthcare services with understanding and love for up to 87% of the basic care needed by women during pregnancy, delivery and puerperium. According to the Nursing and Midwifery Law (1988-2017) midwives are recognised as the professionals responsible for the independent management of healthcare services provided to pregnant women. They monitor, support and advice women before and during pregnancy, during labour and puerperium and they carry out natural deliveries at their own responsibility while looking after both mothers and neonates. (Hadjigeorgiou, 2013).

According to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), Midwives in our days possess adequate knowledge, attitudes and skills, (Hadjigeorgiou and Christofi, 2018).  They are organised in associations and beyond the practice of midwifery as a profession, they share, on many occasions their knowledge and experience with pregnant women, couples and families within the framework of group or individual meetings.  Even though in Cyprus childbirth is no longer performed by midwives at home due to inefficiencies of the healthcare system, their presence before, during and after labour in all types of facilities is decisive for the health and welfare of mothers and infants.  Even now, when the Cyprus healthcare system is medicalized, midwives are still the companions of women and their families, supporting and empowering them to discover and use their own skills during these decisive moments of human life.  


Midwives use their senses (vision, touch, smell) to develop their perceptive skills and cultivate empathy and observation of emotions and reactions, combining traditional knowledge, scientific training and instinct. In spite of the development of midwifery throughout time, love and respect towards pregnant women, mothers, new-borns, families and the society remain unaltered. Finally, the provision of psychoprophylactic care and guidance by midwives contributes to the empowerment of parents and the cultivation of harmonious family and other interpersonal relations in the wider society.



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Stylianou, D. (dir.) (2018): Birth Days. Available in: https://www.birthdaysdocumentary.com and https://vimeo.com/ondemand/birthdaysdocumentary



Stella Leontiou (President), Maria Panagiotou (Vice President)

Midwives Committee, Cyprus Nurses and Midwives Association

Email: midwives@cyna.org

Tel: +357-22-771994

Website: https://cyna.org/midwivescommittee/


Thekla Papantoniou


Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO

Tel: +357 22809810

Email: tpapantoniou@culture.moec.gov.cy