Introduction to Nurse Midwives
What is a nurse midwife?
Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) are licensed health care practitioners educated in the two disciplines of nursing and midwifery. They provide primary care to women of childbearing age including: prenatal care, labor and delivery care, care after birth, gynecologic exams, newborn care, assistance with family planning decisions, preconception care, menopausal management and counseling in health maintenance and disease prevention.
Where do nurse midwives practice?
Nurse midwifery care is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and some U.S. territories. Most CNMs are employed by a hospital or a physician practice. While some CNMs attend home births, most of the births they attend occur in hospitals or birth centers.
What are the standards that must be met to become a nurse midwife?
In the U.S., CNMs are required to pass a national examination for certification administered by the ACNM Certification Council (ACC). To be eligible for examination, a midwifery student must graduate from an educational program accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). These requirements ensure that U.S. nurse midwifery education is standardized, and that CNMs meet national requirements. In addition, some states have further requirements for the practice of nurse midwifery.
ACC Certified Midwives (CMs) are relatively new professionals to the health care field, but their education closely mirros the education for certified nurse midwives. They have or receive a background in a health-related field other than nursing and graduate from a midwifery education program accredited by the ACNM Division of Accreditation. CMs take the same national certification examination as CNMs but receive the professional designation certified midwife.
There are a number of midwives in the U.S. who practice without the same nationally recognized certification as CNMs and CMs. These midwives are known as "lay" midwives. Some midwives have received extensive apprenticeship training as well as formal education not focusing on midwifery.
How safe is nurse midwifery practice?
Numerous studies have concluded that nurse midwifery care has outcomes that are similar to that of physicians with low risk patients. ACNM Standards for the Practice of Nurse Midwifery recognize that nurse midwives must, "demonstrate a safe mechanism for obtaining medical consultation, collaboration and referral" when questions or problems arise.
Why see a nurse midwife?
Nurse midwifery care is woman-centered and strives to be less interventional. While nurse midwifery is a safe option for many women, pregnant women with certain conditions (examples: pre-existing medical disease, placenta previa, multiple gestation, preterm labor, etc.) require the skills and expertise of a physician.
How can I find a nurse midwife?
For information on nurse midwives working within our group, please contact our office. The ACNM web page at www.midwife.org also offers more information about midwifery.