Types of Midwives in the United States
There are several types of midwives practicing in the US. The state of Maine licenses Certified Nurse Midwives, and in 2017 passed legislation to license CPMs. The rules and regulations for the CPM license are in development and it is likely that licenses will be issued within the next year or two.
Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs)
The CPM credential, issued by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE, formerly NOCA). The mission of ICE is to promote excellence in credentialing for practitioners in all occupations and professions. The NCCA accredits many healthcare credentials. For more information, click here.
There is more than one route to becoming certified as a CPM through NARM.. A Certified Professional Midwife’s (CPM) competency is established through training, education and supervised clinical experience, followed by successful completion of a skills assessment and written exam. The goal is to increase public safety by setting standards for midwives who practice the “Midwives Model of Care” predominantly in out-of-hospital settings. Click here for more information.
The CPM credential allows multiple routes of entry to the profession in order to encourage innovation in education, adaptability to evolving best practices of the profession, diversity in the pool of credentialed midwives and broad accessibility to the profession. The competency-based model for certification assures well-educated, skilled and competent providers. Click here for more information.
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs)
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) are educated in both nursing and midwifery. After attending an educational program accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives Certification Council (ACC), they must pass the ACC examination and can be licensed in the individual states in which they practice. CNMs practice most often in hospitals and birth centers but some also attend home births.
Direct-entry midwives, who are licensed in some states, are not required to become nurses before training to be midwives. The Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council (MEAC) is currently accrediting direct-entry midwifery educational programs and apprenticeships in the U.S. Direct-entry midwives’ legal status varies according to the state in which they practice. They attend births most often in freestanding birth centers and in homes. In Maine
The term “Lay Midwife” has been used to designate an uncertified or unlicensed midwife who was educated through informal routes such as self-study or apprenticeship rather than through a formal program. This term does not necessarily mean a low level of education, just that the midwife either chose not to become certified or licensed, or there was no certification available for her type of education. This term is also sometimes used in a derogatory manner. The origin of the term likely comes from the definition “Not of or belonging to a particular profession; nonprofessional” from a time when many midwives were unregulated or unlicensed. It also likely derives from the Greek laikos, “of the people” and may refer to a time when local birth attendants without any formal or recognized training served the needs of their local communities.