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Modern Nurse Midwives: Surprising Facts

midwifeWhen looking for options to deliver your baby, nurse midwives blend the advantages of working with a traditional midwife with having an advocate experienced in traditional medicine. While they usually handle uncomplicated births and provide many other women’s health care services in hospitals, clinics, and at home, they can work in conjunction with an obstetrician to help those who have complex medical histories or troubled pregnancies, premature labor, multiples, and preeclampsia.

Certified Nurse Midwifes

Certified nurse midwifes add to the profession previously in the hands of lay midwives trained in the science through self-study, apprenticeships, midwifery schools, or college based programs that made them ready to be midwives, not nurses. Subscribing to the Midwifery Model of Care, lay midwives work with healthy pregnant women and their newborns to provide care often in non-hospital settings.

Some lay midwives go on to take credentials as certified midwives (CMs), either as professional midwives (CPMs) or licensed midwives (LMs). At this time CNMs can practice in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, while CPMs and CMs are only permitted to practice in some states.

Training for CNMs

Modern nurse midwives are graduates of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs offered around the country to enter the program. They already:

  • Have a Masters or Doctorate in nursing
  • Have passed the national nursing exam for RNs
  • Have an active license
  • Have passed American Midwifery Certification Board exams
  • Stay current on relevant medical knowledge in the field

Why Would You Look for a Midwife to Deliver Your Baby?

In 2013, CNMs and CMs delivered 12% of all the original births and 8.2% of total births in the US. Over 90% of women still prefer obstetricians and other physicians to deliver their babies, but those who choose midwives value a natural childbirth process that midwives advocate and also want the type of social, emotional, and practical support that midwives offer.

If you want a more holistic approach to birth with fewer interventions from drugs and typical birth procedures such as epidurals, fetal monitoring, and episiotomies, a midwife can guide you through the process. Often a midwife is available to talk about changes in your body and mindset during pregnancy, and will help you find the best place to birth your child. However, as with doctors, midwives have their own individual “bedside manner,” so before forsaking the traditional medical establishment for a midwife, you should interview both midwives and doctors to find the best fit with your needs.

While obstetricians oversee births in hospitals, midwives offer delivery in alternative settings such as birthing centers, which are often run by CNMs, or at home. Even when using a midwife, many women prefer a hospital birth, as the options for obtaining an epidural or other painkilling drugs are available there.

Expanded Roles for Nurse Midwives

Although delivering babies is what midwives are most known for, certified nurse midwives also play an important role in women’s health by offering lifetime care for women’s reproductive systems and by offering assistance with family planning and birth control, diet, medication, exercise, and staying healthy. They can prescribe medications, medical devices, treatments, therapy, and testing to assist their patients.

Whether you want to work with a certified nurse midwife or an obstetrician, the professionals at Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center are ready to serve you.


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