Descriptive and exploratory research carried out from October, 2006 to December, 2007 with the analyzing the exercise of midwifery competences by non-physicians working in the public healthcare services of the municipality of São Paulo. This was achieved by means of the characterization of the services of the professionals, the identification of the activities they performed during such assistance and their frequency, as well as any possible obstacles or difficulties they faced to exercise their functions. The field of study was all the public health institutions with midwifery care provided by non-physicians in the east zone of the city of São Paulo, that is, 59 primary care units and six hospitals. The sample was composed of 131 nurses that worked in the prenatal assistance of the primary care units and 42 nurses who worked in the hospitals: six nursing coordinators and38 nurses who provided care directly for women during labor. The data were collected through a form for the coordinators and two questionnaires, one for antenatal and post-delivery caregivers and another for delivery caregivers. The results showed that the non-physicians who assist women during pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery do not put into practice the essential competences for midwifery care because they met institutional and personal resistances and also due to the of protocols based on best practices to the application of the humanized, woman-centered care model. The conclusions show that the public structures of São Paulo need to review their policies, so as to assure the improvement in maternal and child care .
Clinical Competence; Public Policies; Maternal Mortality; Perinatal Mortality; Humanization of Assistance