Many women desire the benefits of midwifery care for their pregnancy but become overwhelmed when they start to look into it and find that there are many different types of midwives to choose from.
While options, certifications, and even legality vary from one state to another and from one country to the next, here are a few basic tips for deciding what type of midwife you want. There isn't necessarily a right answer, just different choices for different situations.
The Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)- For women who want to be attended by a midwife in a hospital setting, the CNM is a great option. A CNM is someone who has trained as a registered nurse and then attended further training (often a master's program) to specialize in midwifery. A CNM has some medical background and can function in various different settings. Many work within a hospital, some work in or own birth centers outside of the hospital, and some even attend home births (though the legality of this varies from state to state).
The Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)- For women who desire to birth at home, a CPM is often what she will choose. A Certified Professional Midwife is usually certified through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and has completed their testing and requirements.
A CPM is not required to have the medical background that a CNM has but has completed reading, apprenticing, and testing in order to specialize in normal birth and has also studied variations and emergency situations that can occur in a birth setting.
Some states also have their own state licensing and will have licensed midwives (or LM) who have passed their state licensing. States vary in their requirements.
There are also, in some states, Direct Entry Midwives (DEM) who have studied midwifery and apprenticed but have not necessarily licensed through an organization or school. A DEM will work in a home or birth center setting but not within the hospital.
Knowing your options and the different types of midwives is a wonderful start to making informed birth choices for you and your baby.