Pregnancy and childbirth are some of life’s most natural and awe-inspiring processes. Proper care during pregnancy and childbirth is essential to the health of both the mother and child. While many modern expecting mothers seek out the care of obstetricians during their pregnancies, there was a time when care for pregnant women was provided primarily by midwives.

Today, certified nurse midwives are once again becoming popular, especially among expecting mothers looking for more holistic care during their pregnancies.

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What is a Certified Nurse Midwife?
What do Certified Nurse Midwives Do?
Where do Certified Nurse Midwives Work?
How do I Become a Certified Nurse Midwife?

What is a Certified Nurse Midwife?

A certified nurse midwife is a nursing professional that cares for pregnant women and their children, both during and after pregnancy. Like other nurses, nurse midwives are licensed nursing professionals, but they have additional training and experience necessary for caring for pregnant women, fetuses, and newborns. In many ways, midwives perform a number of the same duties as obstetric nurses, yet take a more holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth.

There are a number of reasons why expecting parents may choose a midwife as their primary care provider as opposed to an obstetrician. First of all, the services of a midwife are often much less expensive than the services of an obstetrician or gynecologist. Women under the care of midwives are also less likely to end their pregnancy with Cesarian sections or other unnatural procedures.

Unlike obstetricians who have several patients at one time, nurse midwives generally only concentrate on one or two patients at a time. This means that expectant mothers under the care of midwives can enjoy more personalized attention during their pregnancy and not have to wait to be seen by a physician if a situation arises.

Finally, one of the biggest reasons that most expecting parents choose to work with nurse midwives is that they have a greater control over their pregnancies and childbirths. Midwives are also generally much more open to more natural birthing scenarios, while obstetricians are more likely to encourage expecting mothers to follow more rigid medical practices. For example, midwives are often very supportive of home and water births, while obstetricians may prefer that women give birth in hospitals.

Midwifery is a very rewarding and honorable career. As a nurse midwife, you will be able to witness the miracle of childbirth first hand, and empower women by giving them much more control over their childbirth options. However, a career as a nurse midwife can also be somewhat stressful at times. For instance, you must be ready for anything, including medical emergencies during pregnancies and births.

What Does a Certified Nurse Midwife Do?

Certified nurse midwives care for expecting mothers during their pregnancies as well as during childbirth. The main responsibility of a nurse midwife is to help ensure that both mothers and children remain as healthy as possible. Some nurse midwives also provide care to women who aren’t pregnant.

A nurse midwife’s first duty is to examine and assess a patient. Typically, this involves performing pelvic examinations along with other prenatal tests. Many of the tests that nurse midwives perform can help detect possible problems during the pregnancy. Nurse midwives also provide the majority of the routine prenatal care. For instance, they will perform regular checkups, order ultrasounds, and counsel expecting mothers on healthy diet and exercise regimens.

Certified nurse midwives will also help expecting mothers prepare for labor and delivery. For example, they may provide information on different birthing options, such as hospital births and home births. Midwives are also present to assist during and after labor and childbirth.

As a certified midwife, you can also choose to care for women who aren’t pregnant as well. You can offer services such as annual pelvic exams, breast exams, and preconception assistance.

Where do Certified Nurse Midwives Work?

The majority of certified nurse midwives work in physician practices or hospitals. However, some area allow certified midwives to have their own independent practices.

How do I Become a Certified Nurse Midwife?

If you’re looking to become a certified nurse midwife, you must first obtain the proper education. Most nurse midwives start their career by earning their bachelor’s degrees in nursing. However, some midwives also go on to earn master’s degrees or doctoral degrees. You should also take several courses in gynecology, obstetrics, women’s health and pediatrics.

Below is the educational path for a Nurse Midwife (lowest to highest level of education)

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus

Once you’ve earned your degree, you must then pass the proper licensing examination and become either a registered nurse or an advanced practice nurse.

The American Midwifery Certification Board offers midwife certification. Experience and additional nurse midwifery training is often required to be eligible to take the certification examination, however.