Published February 27 2013
Different types of midwivesDifferent types of midwives exist, but two are most common – certified midwives and certified nurse-midwives.
Certified nurse-midwives attend almost 8 percent of births in the U.S., and 96 percent of those births are in hospitals, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Here are differences between the four:
- Certified Nurse-Midwife
Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are licensed health care practitioners educated in nursing and midwifery. They are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board.
CNMs provide primary health care to women, which includes prenatal care, labor and delivery care, care after birth, gynecological exams, newborn care, preconception care, and counseling in health maintenance and disease prevention.
- Certified Midwife
A certified midwife (CM) is an individual educated in the discipline of midwifery who also possesses certification by the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Like CNMs, the CM provides primary health care to women including prenatal care, labor and delivery care, care after birth, gynecological exams and newborn care.
- Other midwives
The majority of midwives are either CNMs or CMs, but a variety of titles are used to label midwifery practice.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives believes that, in the U.S., all midwives should graduate from an accredited midwifery education program that is affiliated with an institution of higher education.
All CNMs and CMs have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, while more than 80 percent hold a master’s degree or higher.
Because standards for the education and practice of midwifery may vary, the ACNM urges consumers to carefully evaluate credentials.
The doula’s role is to provide physical and emotional support to women and their partners during labor and birth.
A doula offers information, assistance and advice on topics like breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning.
Perhaps the most crucial role of the doula is to provide continuous emotional reassurance and comfort.
Doulas do not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or fetal heart rate monitoring. Doulas do not diagnose medical conditions or give medical advice.
Doulas and midwives often work together because their philosophy and practice is complementary.
Source: American College of Nurse-Midwives
– Forum staff reports