What is Midwifery?Midwife practice, as conducted by Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), is the independent management of women’s health care focusing on primary care issues, family planning and gynecological needs of women, pregnancy,
childbirth, the postpartum period, and care of the newborn. The CNM practices within a healthcare system that provides for consultation, collaborative management, or referral as indicated by the health status of the patient.
What is a Midwife?The name midwife means “with women” and midwives have been ushering women through the normal stages of life, from birth to puberty to pregnancy to menopause and beyond since before the time of modern
medicine. Although considered primary healthcare providers in most countries around the world since ancient times, midwives have been continually gaining popularity in the United States since the 1900s and in 2005 midwives attended 11.2%
of all vaginal births.
Today’s midwives must graduate from an accredited education program and pass a certification exam. Once certified, midwives attend continuing education programs in order to keep abreast of changes
in obstetrics. Many midwives work as labor and delivery nurses before transitioning to the midwife role. Midwives collaborate with an obstetrician.
What are the different kinds of Midwives?
Today, most U.S. midwives are Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs), meaning they:
- have a masters degree or higher
- have completed training in both disciplines of nursing and midwifery
- are certified with the American College of Nurse Midwives
- are licensed in every state
- have ability to prescribe medications in every state
- may work with doctors.
Although trained to work in hospitals, birth centers, and in the home, about 96 percent of births performed by CNMs occur in hospitals.
Not all midwives are CNMs. A Certified Midwife (CM) meets all the criteria of a CNM except
he or she is not a registered nurse. Direct-entry midwives (DEM) may not have a college degree and may have been trained through apprenticeships or self-study and work exclusively in out-of-hospital settings. A Certified Professional Midwife
(CPM) is also an expert in out-of-hospital births for low risk women and is certified by the North American Registry of Midwives after passing written exams and hands-on skill evaluations.
Choosing a Midwife As with any healthcare provider, it is important to feel comfortable, have trust in, and share a mutual respect with your midwife. Ask about the midwife’s background and certifications, and ensure that the
midwife’s philosophy and approach to health are in line with your own preferences.