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Different Types of Midwives

November 16, 2017

Not all midwives are the same. 


There a few different types of midwives, which can be very confusing. Such differences include varying levels of education, how they deliver, where they deliver, prenatal care, postpartum care, labor support, etc.


I am a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). I started as a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree prior to going to graduate school. There are Certified Midwives (CM) who have comparable education, but were not registered nurses prior to their trainings.



CNMs and CMs have either a master’s or doctorate degree from an accredited university. We have to maintain national board certifications and state licenses. We are able to prescribe medications and have a DEA license. We are required to stay current in the most recent, evidenced-based literature and required to attend conferences. Some CNMs & CMs deliver at home or in a birth center, however, most work in the hospital setting. 



Other midwives of which you may be more aware are Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). CPMs have taken a midwifery education course and preceptorship. According to your state's law, CPMs can manage prescriptions. CPMs deliver babies at home or in a birth center settings.



I am sure you have all heard of heartbreaking stories of sad outcomes for women or their babies with homebirths. Believe it or not, those stories are actually not as common as you think. There are thousands of normal, happy birth outcomes, but unfortunately we only hear about the bad ones.



Please note, there are also women in your local communities working under the midwife title, but have little to no training at all. We refer to them as lay midwives. 


It is really important to know what type of midwife you are using. Whether you choose to deliver at home, in a birth center, or hospital, I want you to have the safest experience possible. Research your provider and ask questions. Find out what type of education level they have.



If you choose to have a home or birth center delivery, then ask them what they would do in an emergent situation, such as a postpartum hemorrhage, cord prolapse, non-reassuring fetal heart tones, unusual or severe bleeding prior to birth, etc. What is their plan to get you to the hospital? Are they contracted with any OB physicians at the hospital? Know this ahead of time. Be prepared and have a plan in place, so you know what to do in an emergent situation.


Check out this fact sheet to see key differences.

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© 2017 by Carlie A. Yearsley, CNM, WHNP, DNP