Existing workforce data, as an estimate of the current capability of the midwifery workforce to provide midwifery care, is confounded by systematic reporting issues that may overestimate the potential of the existing midwifery workforce. This paper reports the characteristics of qualified Australian midwives who responded to the baseline data collection in the Midwives and Nurses e-Cohort Study and compares those who are currently practising in midwifery with those who are not. Currently practising midwives represented only 52% of those respondents who identified as midwives and the profile of the typical midwife is female, aged over 40 years, Australian, married or in a de facto relationship. She has been registered for over 10 years, educated to postgraduate diploma level and currently works in a clinical midwifery role in a hospital for less than 35 hours per week. Specific deficits in the Australian midwifery workforce namely low numbers of indigenous midwives, independent practitioners and midwives suitably qualified to teach and undertake research in academia are identified. Drawing on the nationally representative e-cohort data, this cross-sectional analysis identifies for the first time the real face of the Australian midwifery workforce and provides an evidence-based foundation for future workforce planning and a methodology for other countries interested in accurately monitoring their actual and potential midwifery workforce.