Promoting Unity, Honoring Diversity
In 1982, the Midwives Alliance of North America was established as a non-profit (501 c 6) professional organization for all midwives. MANA grew out of a grassroots coalition of diverse types of midwives including nurse-midwives, lay midwives, direct-entry midwives, and traditional midwives from across North America. The impetus to create MANA was a desire to establish a professional home for all midwives that would recognize and honor the diversity of educational backgrounds and practice styles within the profession. At the time, membership in the American College of Nurse-Midwives was limited to individuals who were nurses, graduated from an ACNM accredited midwifery training program, and certified by ACNM's national exam.
Along with welcoming all midwives, MANA established an American professional midwifery association for direct-entry midwives who entered the profession directly rather than through a nursing route, just as most midwives do in Canada and Europe. In addition MANA created a professional association for midwives attending births in out-of-hospital settings at a time when there was no other organizations of its kind. Ultimately, it was the goal of the Founding Mothers to unify and strengthen North American midwifery, provide women with access to more choices in childbirth practitioners, and in so doing, improve the quality of health care for women, infants and communities.
MANA is unique in that it is the only professional organization that provides a place for all midwives and the opportunity for professional development regardless of a midwife's route of entry into the profession, training, educational background or practice style.
Over Three Decades of Leadership
Since 1982, the Midwives Alliance has taken leadership in advocating for a maternity care model that encourages women to take charge of their reproductive health and that ensures optimal outcomes for mothers and babies. The safety and benefits of the midwifery model of care have been proven again and again in countries across the world, including the United States. World Health Organization statistics show that births attended by midwives have lower infection rates, lower Cesarean section rates, fewer complications, healthier outcomes, and lower overall medical costs than physician-attended hospital births.
MANA has a proud history of relentlessly advocating for women’s autonomy in their reproductive lives through promoting midwifery as a high quality maternity care option.
Engendering a Network of Midwifery Organizations
Throughout the years, the visionaries of the Midwives Alliance have engendered a network of organizations to promote the practice of midwifery, implement midwifery education and regulation, raise public awareness regarding choices in childbirth, and provide public education on the benefits of normal physiologic birth and natural birth practices.
Co-Creator of the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)
The Midwives Alliance has been a co-partner in the establishment and promotion of the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), an innovative, autonomous, and accessible midwifery credential created and sustained by and for midwives. CPMs are a fast-growing segment of the midwifery profession in the United States. CPMs have expertise in out-of-hospital childbirth settings and are the only U.S. midwives trained specifically for these settings (home births and freestanding birth centers.) They practice as skilled, trained, safe and autonomous maternity care providers working in consultation and collaboration with a network of maternal and child health professional and facilities.
Evolution of Midwifery Across North America
For over 30 years, MANA's early partners from Canada, Mexico and the United States have seen an evolution in the profession and the establishment of additional midwifery organizations. Over two decades ago, the International Center for Traditional Childbearing was established to represent Black midwives and healers. Over a decade ago, the Canadian Association of Midwives was established to represent the profession of midwifery in Canada. And most recently, the Mexican midwives established their own professional organization, the Asociacion Mexicana de Parteria,which was legally registered in April 2012.
MANA's Focus is Strengthening and Promoting U.S. Midwifery
Although MANA still has members from the international community, including from countries across the Americas, MANA is now primarily a U.S.-focused organization. To make that point clear we are identifying as the "Midwives Alliance" rather than the "Midwives Alliance of North America." We do, however, still use the acronym "MANA."
We continue to value our partnerships with midwives and midwifery associations across the Americas and beyond, and devote substantial resources to coalition building and collaborative advocacy for midwifery and women's choices in the childbirth.