Midwife Matters

Pregnancy preparations, women's health, and care options

What is a Nurse-Midwife?

Midwife simply means ‘with woman’.  This is also a central concept in defining midwifery; providing emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological support and care to women throughout their life cycle.  Certified nurse-midwives (CNM), like the ones that work with HealthPartners, are both trained as nurses and midwives.  They have all gone to school to be registered nurses (RN) and many have years of experience in nursing before they become midwives.  In order to become a certified nurse-midwife nurses go through an accredited graduate program for either a Masters or a Doctorate in midwifery according to the requirements of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).  Each midwife then must pass a national certified licensing exam before being designated as a certified nurse-midwife.SAM_0008

It is important to distinguish that there are also certified midwives (CM), certified professional midwives (CPM) and lay midwives.  Certified midwives provide care much like the certified nurse-midwife but do not have a nursing background.  They are also certified according to the requirements of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and take the same licensing exam as CNMs.  Certified midwives can practice in hospitals.  Certified professional midwives provide care out of the hospital such as in birth centers and in homes.  They have met the standards for certification by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM).  Lay midwives are those designated as uncertified or unlicensed.  They are often self-taught and/or have learned by apprenticeship rather than formal training.

Often associated or confused with midwives are doulas.  Doulas are labor assistants.  They are nonmedical persons who are there to support the mother before, during, or after childbirth as well as her partner and family.  There are a variety of different organizations that provide training and usually a form of certification, but there is no standardization to this process nor are doulas licensed.


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