Every country across the globe, almost without exception, has midwives.
Becoming a midwife is an exciting opportunity to join an honorable lineage of health care providers who serve women throughout their lifespan, in every rural, urban, tribal, and remote area of the world. Though having ancient roots, this modern profession is on the cutting edge of providing up-to-date, personalized, high quality care.
Midwives Are on the Rise
According to the 2012 Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health article by Eugene Declerq PhD, Trends in Midwife Attended Births in the United States, 1989-2009, which cites statistics from the Center from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of midwives attending births in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2009, and may still be rising. This is an excellent time to become a midwife. An increase in the midwifery workforce will bring the United States more in line with the rest of the world where midwives already play a central role in providing maternity and newborn care.
Routes of Entry into Midwifery
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 types of credentialed U.S. midwives, Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM), and Certified Midwives (CM).
Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): CNMs practice in hospitals and medical clinics and may also deliver babies in birthing centers and attend at-home births. Some work with academic institutions as professors. They are able to prescribe medications, treatments, medical devices, therapeutic and diagnostic measures. CNMs are able to provide medical care to women from puberty through menopause, including care for their newborn (neonatology), antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum and nonsurgical gynecological care.I
Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): CNM programs are graduate level programs that are only open to licensed RNs who already hold a bachelor’s degree (preferably in nursing). CNM programs grant a master’s or graduate degree. They take a minimum of 24 months to complete. After completion of an accredited CNM program, CNM candidates need to confirm that their graduate program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) and then pass the national qualifying exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). AMCB is the only organization in the U.S. that issues CNM credentials.
Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM): A direct-entry midwife is an independent practitioner educated in the discipline of midwifery through self-study, apprenticeship, a midwifery school, a college, or university-based program distinct from the discipline of nursing. A direct-entry midwife is trained to provide the Midwives Model of Care to healthy women and newborns throughout the childbearing cycle primarily in out-of-hospital settings. Licensed Midwives (LM) and Registered Midwives (RM) are examples of direct-entry midwives.
Certified Midwife (CM): The Certified Midwife (CM) credential was created to allow individuals with an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than nursing to obtain a graduate degree in midwifery and then practice as a midwife. They are trained and certified according to the requirements of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, take the same certification exam, and have the same scope of practice as CNMs. To date, only a few states have recognized the CM credential: NY, NJ, DE, ME, MO, and RI.
Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): A Certified Professional Midwife’s (CPM) competency is established through training, education and supervised clinical experience appropriate for midwives who practice “The Midwives Model of Care” predominately in out-of-hospital settings. CPMs can train through an apprenticship with a qualified midwife or by attending a midwifery program or school. Graduates of MEAC accredited schools are qualified to take the NARM written exam. All others must complete an Entry-Level Portfolio Evalution Process (PEP). The CPM is the only midwifery credential that requires knowledge about and experience in out-of-hospital settings.
In addition, there are midwives who—for religious, personal, and philosophical reasons—choose not to become certified or licensed. Typically they are called traditional or community-based 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.
Resources for Becoming a Midwife
For Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)
For Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) or Certified Midwife (CM)
- International Center for Traditional Midwives (ICTC, Black Midwives and Healers)