This paper describes the perceptions of midwifery educational leaders concerning the potential for simulation to provide a realistic experience in midwifery education. A qualitative design was employed using focus groups which were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Eleven focus groups were conducted with 46 key midwifery academics across Australia. Three main themes emerged relating to realism and simulation in midwifery practice: 'we already use a lot of simulation', 'level of realism of manikins', and 'some things cannot be simulated'. Simulation is currently widely used in midwifery education, but this is limited due to realism of available models and equipment. Despite this, within a woman-centred, holistic approach to care there are many aspects of midwifery practice that cannot be easily simulated. There is a need for research and development of realistic simulation approaches to support the enhanced use of simulation. Furthermore, strategies for developing approaches that reflect midwifery care provision need to be developed.