What is a Midwife?

There are different categories of midwives, which are based on education, certification and licensure. In Pennsylvania, only Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) are licensed to practice by the PA Board of Medicine. Hopefully, this will change so that all midwives are recognized for their safe, knowledgeable (evidenced based?), supportive and cost effective care for women and their babies.

Certified nurse-midwives (CNM) 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.

American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) (www.acnm.org)

Certified midwives (CM) are individuals who have or receive a background in a health related field other than nursing and graduate from a midwifery education program accredited by ACME. Graduates of an ACME-accredited midwifery education program take the same national certification examination as CNMs but receive the professional designation of certified midwife.

Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) are practitioners who have met the standards   for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and are qualified to provide the   midwifery model of care. Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) (www.mana.org)Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM) 
are   independent practitioners educated in the discipline of midwifery through   self-study, apprenticeship, a midwifery school, or a college- or   university-based program distinct from the discipline of nursing. A   direct-entry midwife is trained to provide the Midwives Model of Care to   healthy women and newborns throughout the childbearing cycle primarily in   out-of-hospital settings. Lay Midwife
This term 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. Other similar terms to   describe uncertified or unlicensed midwives are traditional midwife, traditional birth attendant, granny midwife and independent midwife.

Licensed Midwife (LM) 
A licensed midwife is a midwife who is licensed to practice in a   particular jurisdiction (usually a state or province)

 International Definition of a Midwife
 Adopted by the International Confederation of Midwives 19 July 2005

A midwife is a person who, having been regularly admitted to a   midwifery educational program, duly recognized in the country in which it   is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in   midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered   and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery.

The midwife is recognized as a responsible and accountable   professional who works in partnership with women to give the necessary   support, care and advice during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period, to conduct births on the midwife’s own responsibility and to provide care for   the newborn and the infant. This care includes preventive measures, the   promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and   child, the accessing of medical or other appropriate assistance and the   carrying out of emergency measures.

The midwife has an important task in health counseling and   education, not only for the woman, but also within the family and community.   This work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood   and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health and   childcare.

A midwife may practice in any setting including in the home, the   community, hospitals, clinics or health units.

International Confederation of Midwives (www.internationalmidwives.org)