Midwifery: Getting Started Guide

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There are many misconceptions about midwifery, but the practice is gaining momentum as more women choose individualized care. Your job? Provide all levels of support, from physical to spiritual.

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Careers

Before there were hospitals, there were midwives. It’s a long-standing career path and in just about every country today, midwives are essential to women’s health care.

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Degree

Your sense of compassion and desire to work in women-centered care makes you a perfect midwife. All you need now is the right education and certification.

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Search for Midwifery Schools and Programs

Learn More About Your Midwifery Journey

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Midwives approach their job from a holistic point of view. You won't just deliver a baby, you'll work with a mother-to-be from the very beginning of her pregnancy. To get started, decide on the type of midwife you want to become—a certified midwife (CN), a certified professional midwife (CPM) or a certified nurse-midwife (CNM). The latter requires that you also become a registered nurse. This will also dictate the type of education you need and your workplace. CNs and CNMs tend to work in hospitals and clinics whereas CPMs typically treat patients at their home or at birthing centers. No matter where you end up, you can feel good knowing you're instrumental in promoting good health in women and children.

You'll provide prenatal, postpartum and newborn care and in some cases, serve as a woman's primary health care provider. Your career as a midwife will be full of happy moments as you track fetal development, keep mother and baby healthy and provide unwavering support to families.

In midwifery school, you can expect to learn about genetics, growth and development, epidemiology and nutrition. An important factor to consider in your quest for the right midwifery school is the rate in which students pass the certification exam. This is a good indicator of whether a program sufficiently prepares students for a midwifery career.

Need-to-Know School and Career Facts

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If you want to become a certified nurse-midwife or certified midwife, you can seek certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board. Meanwhile, the North American Registry of Midwives offers certified professional midwives with certification upon completion of a school program.

In terms of state licensing, CPMs are not permitted to work in all 50 states. Currently, there are only 28 states that allow CPMs to practice.

Doulas are involved in the childbirth process, but not in the same way as a midwife. A midwife can dispense medical advice and conduct clinical tasks, while a doula is hired to provide support and advocate for a woman and her family during the birthing process.

Another major difference between doulas and midwives is the level of education. Doulas need a certificate and training, but not a college degree.

The accreditation organization for your school will depend on the type of midwifery program you’re enrolling in. The Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) accredits Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) schools, while the American College of Nurse-Midwives Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education signs off on quality CNM and CM programs.