Types of Midwives

In the United States there are several pathways to midwifery education and training. Most pathways result in midwifery certification and qualify the candidate for licensing in her/his state or municipality. Candidates seeking to become certified and licensed midwives can choose among several routes of entry into the profession using nurse-midwifery or direct-entry midwifery educational programs. The most common types of midwives are listed below including the three professional U.S. midwifery credentials, Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM), and Certified Midwives (CM).


Nurse Midwives

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): 

Certified Nurse-Midwives are trained in both nursing and midwifery. Their training is hospital-based, and the vast majority of CNMs practice in clinics and hospitals. Although their training occurs in medical settings, the CNM/CM scope of practice allows them to provide care in any birth setting.

Direct-Entry Midwives:

Direct-entry midwives are trained to provide the Midwives Model of Care to healthy women and newborns primarily in out-of-hospital settings. They do not have nursing education as a prerequisite for midwifery education.

Certified Midwife (CM):

Certified Midwives are individuals who have or receive a background in a health related field other than nursing, then graduate from a masters level midwifery education program. They have similar training to CNMs, conform to the same standards as CNMs, but are not required to have the nursing component.

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM):
 The vast majority of direct-entry midwives in the United States are Certified Professional Midwives. The CPM is the only midwifery credential that requires knowledge about and experience in out-of-hospital settings. Their education and clinical training focuses on providing midwifery model care in homes and freestanding birth centers. In some states, CPMs may also practice in clinics and doctors offices providing well-woman and maternity care.

Traditional Midwives

In addition, there are midwives who—for religious, personal, and philosophical reasons—choose not to become certified or licensed. Typically they are called traditional midwives. They believe that they are ultimately accountable to the communities they serve; or that midwifery is a social contract between the midwife and client/patient, and should not be legislated at all; or that women have a right to choose qualified care providers regardless of their legal status.