A new generation of direct-entry midwives emerged in the 1970s to serve those women who were rediscovering normal birth and choosing to give birth at home. What began as a grassroots movement almost forty years ago has evolved into a body of professionals with a national identity. This professionalization began in 1982 with the founding of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), an organization that brought together midwives from all backgrounds who were committed to unifying and strengthening midwifery.

MANA’s role was central to the development and evolving philosophy of contemporary direct-entry midwifery. From the beginning, its leaders and members were committed to envisioning an innovative midwifery model that could meet the needs of contemporary women of reproductive age who desired an alternative to the prevailing maternity care that would provide ac- cess to physiologic, woman- and family-focused care. MANA developed the first national certifying examination for direct-entry midwives and in 1986 launched a national registry of midwives, thereby laying the groundwork for the establishment of the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential.

In the early 1990s, MANA developed the Statement of Values and Ethics, providing guidance for professional conduct in the practice of midwifery with a unique focus on experience and competencies of childbearing women. At the same time, MANA’s Core Competencies described the clinical skills and judgment needed for the practice of midwifery and became the foundational document for the professsionalization of direct-entry midwifery.

In the early 1990s, MANA began collecting data on out-of-hospital births to assess the practice of direct-entry midwives which contributed to one of the largest prospective studies of midwifery practice conducted in North America. In 2004, MANA implemented a state-of-the-art on-line data collection system.

From: Certified Professional Midwives in the United States: An Issue Brief From NARM, MEAC, NACPM and MANA, June 2008

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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.

Development of the CPM

In 1983, the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) created a Credentialing Committee to gather information about the credentialing of midwives. By 1985, the Credentialing Committee was working in conjunction with the Standards and Practice Committee and the Education Committee to develop proposals for a voluntary Registry for direct-entry midwives. In 1986, MANA established the Interim Registry Board (IRB) to develop a test that would measure midwifery knowledge based on the MANA Core Competencies.

Restructuring MANA

MANA has been undergoing a restructuring process since 2012. Exploring restructuring has been on the table for MANA for many years. Why? Strategically and intuitively, we understand the need to evolve as the midwifery profession grows and the environments change in which midwives work. 

Restructuring was complete in April of 2015 with the adoption of new bylaws by the membership.

Midwives' Alliance of North America Historical Note

from the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College Northampton, MA

2020 Challenge

The 2020 Challenge was developed during a strategic planning session at the Fall 2010 Board meeting, and was announced at the Nashville TN conference by Geradine Simkins, MANA President & Interim Executive Director.