On a day recognising midwives around the world, New Zealand's midwives say recognition is exactly what they need to keep the maternity system first-class.
May 5 is the International Day of the Midwife and it's prompted the New Zealand Nurses Organisation -- which mainly represents midwives in hospitals -- to call for more acknowledgement of the extent and increasing difficulty of their work.
Professional nursing adviser Kate Weston told NZ Newswire while plenty of midwives were being trained in New Zealand, there was a concern the work of those employed in major hospitals wasn't being counted and could lead to funding shortages.
She said most metro hospital midwives had to perform functions that were essentially emergency unit services because of the complexity of patient conditions but DHBs had no way to quantify this.
"They're working incredibly hard and doing a great job but it's very hard for them to quantify that they're effectively providing an emergency service," she said.
Ms Weston said public health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease -- which can cause pregnancy complications -- meant the work hospital midwives were doing was becoming more challenging as well.
Without that work being recognised there was a risk midwifery in hospitals would become understaffed and nurses would have to take on too much, Ms Weston said.
"New Zealand has a first-class maternity system and we want to keep it that way," she said.
"It's really making sure we are keeping pace.