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What is a certified nurse-midwife (CNM)?

A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is an advanced practice nurse who has specialized education and training in both nursing and midwifery. Midwives are healthcare providers who care for women throughout the lifespan and assist women with pregnancy and birth and the transition into motherhood. In addition, CNMs can prescribe medications, offer family planning counseling and contraception management, perform annual physical exams, order lab work, and provide menopausal support and basic primary care to healthy women.

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Certified nurse-midwives are registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) and have passed a national certification examination to receive the professional designation of certified nurse-midwife. Nurse-midwives have been practicing in the United States since the 1920s.

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Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

A Certified Nurse Midwife is an excellent choice for a practitioner if you are expecting. Certified Nurse Midwives are Registered Nurses who are educated in both the disciplines of nursing and Midwifery. They earn a graduate degree from an accredited Midwifery Education Program that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). Upon completion of their educational training they must pass a national certification exam (ACME). Following graduation they must pass a national certification examination administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) to receive the professional designation of CNM. A CNM practices under the guidelines and standards set by the American College of Midwives (ACNM). A CNM’s practice includes a full range of primary health care services for women from adolescence through menopause, including primary care, gynecologic and family planning services, preconception care, care during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, care of the normal newborn during the first 28 days of life. Care with a CNM is a holistic approach to caring for the woman thru her life cycle. CNM's practice in a collaborative relationship with OB/GYN's and refer as necessary for medical complications.

A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse who has education and training in midwifery and is certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and also meets the standards of the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). CNMs are internationally credentialed and may practice in hospitals, birthing centers, or attend home births. They are licensed to practice in all states and are licensed to prescribe medicine. All hospital midwives are CNMs, and many are in practice with obstetricians.

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time,...
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are educated in the two disciplines of nursing and midwifery. Certified midwives (CMs) are educated only in midwifery. Both CNMs and CMs are specialists in both natural childbirth and well-woman care, which includes gynecological checkups, pelvic and breast exams, Pap smears, and family planning services. CNMs are registered nurses who earn a master's degree in an accredited nurse midwifery program. CMs complete an accredited midwifery program that also provides a master's degree and pass the same national certifying exam. There are relatively few CMs compared to CNMS in the United States.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth

ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY AND THE BIRTH OF YOUR CHILD -- FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH" Pregnancy and birth are as ordinary...
Dr. Deborah Raines, MSN
Nursing Specialist

CNM is a registered nurse earns a graduate degree in a midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). Following graduation the nurse must pass a national certification examination administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) to receive the professional designation of CNM. A CNM’s practice includes a full range of primary health care services for women from adolescence through menopause, including primary care, gynecologic and family planning services, preconception care, care during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, care of the normal newborn during the first 28 days of life.

Marcy Holmes, MSN, NP
Nursing Specialist

A CNM is usually a Registered Nurse [RN] with additional training to manage patients during pregnancy and child birth, as well as gynecology. CNM's are certified by a national organization, hold a state license to practice. They are expert at what is healthy and normal, promoting natural child birth, and are keen to identify when something is not normal to seek additional care. I’m thrilled with the care I had by my CNM when delivering my daughter!

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are advance practice nurses who have completed a formal education tract with a master’s degree and hands-on training for childbirth. They practice independently as healthcare providers with a team of supportive doctors.

Their scope of practice includes preventive and wellness care for women from adolescent through geriatric. CNMs are probably most known for their hands-on approach to childbirth but they also provide care for pre-pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum care.

Depending on where they practice, midwives may have varied approaches to how they provide that support. Here are just a few ways that midwives assist moms and families:

  • Assistance in developing a personalized birth plan
  • Education and counseling before and after you give birth
  • Hands-on support throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery
  • A hospital-based birth with minimal intervention
  • Whenever possible, the option of an unmedicated birth
  • Pain reduction methods, including epidural
  • Encouragement and guidance for family and friends attending the birth
  • Support to help you bond with your baby and to make breastfeeding successful

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.