For centuries women have been helping other women deliver their babies, this is where the occupation of midwife developed. A midwife is an expert on all the options available to a woman during labor and delivery, and specializes in ensuring that the pregnant mother and baby need as little medical intervention as possible.

Midwives Model Of Care

This outline covers the main responsibilities of the midwife:

  • To monitor the physical, psychological and general well-being of the mother throughout her pregnancy and postpartum period.
  • Give the mother education, counseling and prenatal care as well as personal assistance through labor and deliver as well as providing postpartum support.
  • Minimize medical and technological intervention
  • Referring women who are in need of obstetrical attention when identified.

What Exactly Is A Midwife?

A midwife provides health care services to pregnant women, which can include taking a thorough medical history, conducting gynecological exams, providing prescriptions, giving contraceptive counseling and providing care during labor and delivery. Specifically a midwife’s duty is to help women through their labor, delivery and after birth.

What Do Midwives Do?

The services that a midwife can provide depend on their qualifications and licensing, as well as the practice restrictions imposed by each state. If the midwife is also licensed as a nurse then she will be able to provide more extensive services than one who is a midwife alone.

Services that midwives can provide include gynecological exams, preconception care and family planning, prenatal care, newborn care, labor and delivery care and support, and menopausal management. They can also educate on fertility, contraception, nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding and infant care. Midwives are a fantastic economical option for pregnant women.

Types Of Midwives

Midwives can get certified through the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) or the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). Here is the description of the different types of midwives:

  • CNM: Certified Nurse-Midwife – a person trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery. A CNM has at least a bachelor’s degree and is certified by the ACNM.
  • CPM: Certified Professional Midwife – a person trained as a midwife who meets the standards set by the ACNM.
  • DEM: Direct-Entry Midwife – a person who has individually trained themselves in midwifery. Options for study include apprenticeship, midwifery school, college or university or even self-study.
  • CM: Certified Midwife – a person trained and certified in midwifery, who has at least a bachelor’s degree and is certified by the ACNM.
  • Lay Midwife – a person who has studied informally through self-study or apprenticeship but is not certified or licensed.

Where Do Midwives Work?

Midwives believe heavily in providing a natural childbirth experience whenever possible. They usually provide care in a private birthing center or at the mother’s home. Midwives can also work in conjunction with labor and delivery teams at hospitals. No matter where the mother chooses to give birth a midwife can provide assistance.

Benefits Of A Midwife

The primary reason why women choose a midwife is to keep the labor and delivery process natural, or at least as natural as possible. Midwives also provide excellent options when it comes to their fees, including payment plans, sliding scale fees and insurance plans.

Using a nurse-midwife along with a natural delivery may:

  • Lower costs of maternity care
  • Reduce mortality rates in conjunction with cesareans and other medical interventions
  • Lower risk of recover complications
  • Reduction of intervention rates


60 to 80% of pregnancies are considered low-risk, meaning that 20 to 40% of pregnancies may require medical intervention and require a doctor or surgeon. As long as adequate preparations are made in case of an emergency in a low-risk situation there is no reason why a home birth or delivery at a birth center cannot be attempted. In the case of higher risk pregnancies a midwife can still be utilized, but a delivery at a hospital will likely be recommended.