The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

Course handbook


This course builds upon basic knowledge provided in pre-registration midwifery courses. It concerns how to optimise the biological, environmental, social, emotional and psychological factors that interact to create the conditions that women and babies experience during the childbearing year.

Topics review and extend students understanding of normal psychophysiology and factors which optimise maternal and fetal health from prior to conception to six weeks postpartum. This encompasses pre-conceptual health and nutrition of both parents. Genetics and epigenetics are reviewed to consider the impact of the women's environment on her physical and emotional health and the way in which this can affect the baby's growth and development. The ideal birth environment is critically examined with reference to the birth space, mindfulness and the role of the midwifery guardian in creating and maintaining a safe and nurturing environment. Inter-professional collaboration is optimising normal physiology of labour, birth, bonding and breastfeeding is examined with particular reference to cortisol, adrenaline, oxytocin, prolactin and endorphin. The provision of woman-centred midwifery care, design of birthing services and related policy and practice is evaluated.

Availability2020 Course Timetables

HKU Space - Hong Kong Uni

  • Trimester 3 - 2020


  • Trimester 3 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Critically discuss pre-conceptual counselling in relation to the health and nutrition for both parents and its impact on future offspring.

2. Appraise the social, emotional, psychological and physical environmental factors that effect maternal/fetal well-being including the role of mindfulness, and thus, genetic expression.

3. Critically analyse the research literature regarding the conditions that optimise the normal maternal and fetal psychophysiology during pregnancy, labour, birth and the immediate postpartum including the role of the midwifery guardian, birth territory and inter-professional collaboration.

4. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the initiation and regulation of labour as a holistic phenomenon, with particular emphasis on the role that the autonomic nervous system and hormonal cascade play in mediating the physiology of labour, birth, breastfeeding and bonding.

5. Evaluate the policy and practice of implementing woman-centred care and birthing services and the ability to provide primary level midwifery care within a tertiary level facility.

6. Reflect on own midwifery practice to examine the care you provide that either honours or diverts a woman's pathway towards optimal birth in her particular circumstances.


  1. Pre-conceptual counselling
  2. Impact of the woman's environment on genetic expression and maternal and fetal psychophysiology during the childbearing year
  3. Impact of the birth environment on the physiology of labour, birth and breastfeeding including the production, regulation and interactions of cortisol, adrenaline, oxytocin, prolactin and endorphin
  4. Mindfulness and midwifery practice
  5. Inter-profesional collaboration and the policy and practice of implementing women-centred midwifery care and birthing services

Assumed knowledge

A Bachelor degree in Midwifery (or equivalent) or completion of a Graduate Diploma in Midwifery together with current midwifery registration and minimum of one year postgraduate experience.

Assessment items

Online Learning Activity: Online Module Postings - 20%

Online Learning Activity: Reflective Essay - 30%

Essay: Essay - Case Study - 50%

Contact hours

HKU Space - Hong Kong Uni

Online Activity

Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

Self-Directed Learning

Self-Directed 8 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Online Activity

Online 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks

Self-Directed Learning

Self-Directed 6 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks