Certified nurse midwives (CNM) and certified midwives (CM) care for women and their babies through all stages of pregnancy and birth, but their dedication does not end with birth. Nurse midwives tend to women throughout their lifespans and give attention to caring for the whole woman including her physical and physiological health.

The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) recognizes the week of September 30 to October 6 as National Midwifery Week and calls attention to the varied roles CNMs and CMs play in women’s lives.

This is a great time to learn about the healthcare midwives provide. Although midwives are most well-known for the care they give during childbirth, many report reproductive care, primary physical care, and parenting education among their duties. And midwives are a well-educated bunch. More than three quarters of them have a graduate degree and for the past eight years, a degree has been a requirement to begin a midwifery practice as a CM or CNM.

Some interesting facts from ACNM about nurse midwives:

  • According to the American Midwifery Certification Board, as of August 2017, there were 11,826 CNMs and 101 CMs. The vast majority of midwives in the United States are CNMs. The standards for education and certification are identical for these two roles.
  • CNMs are licensed, independent health care providers with prescriptive authority in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico. CNMs are defined as primary care providers under federal law.
  • In 2014, CNMs/CMs attended 332,107 births—a slight increase compared to 2013. In 2014, CNMs/CMs attended 91.3% of all midwife-attended births, 12.1% of all vaginal births, and 8.3% of total US births. (2014 is the most recent year for which final birth data are available from the National Center for Health Statistics.)
  • In 2014, 94.2% of CNM/CM-attended births occurred in hospitals, 3% occurred in freestanding birth centers, and 2.7% occurred in homes.

CMs and CNMs teach women to care for themselves and their families through evidence-based practice and education. As a comprehensive approach, they work as part of healthcare team with the woman playing an active, central, and decisive role. With a holistic view of individual care, they are able to assess how different life experiences and situations will impact the health of a woman and also the people she cares for. Looking at a woman as a central role in a family system, whatever form that system looks like or exists as, is an integral part of a woman’s physical and mental health.

If you are thinking of a career as a CM or CNM, you can look into the programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). If you are a nursing student, you can reach out to ACNM to become a liaison between your school and the organization. Find out more about education and a career as a CM or CNM.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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