Home Birth Advocacy

A Midwife For Life

8 Comments 06 May 2012

This past week, my grandmother gave me a copy of Inspire, a quarterly magazine published by Borgess Hospital.

Grandma Nona & Ella

She thought of me because the issue included an article featuring nurse midwives called, Behind Women For Life; Celebrating the Role of Certified Nurse Midwives.

I visit my Grandma every Thursday with my children. We’ve been very close forever. She supports my efforts to inform families about home birth. She attended my first home birth and watched her first great-grandchild, Ella, be born. We talk about my work at BBH frequently. Love her so much!

I was grateful, and learned a lot from the article! For instance, I had no idea that CNMs provide life-long care to women, from before pregnancy, such as pap-smears, to long after pregnancy, up to menopause.

After reading it, I couldn’t help but feel a bit…envious.

As much as I love my midwife, I’m a bit jealous of the women who are able to form long lasting relationships with their midwives. My home birth midwife is a CPM, and didn’t provide personal care for me after the process of birthing was over. I’ve always been bummed that we couldn’t spend more time together, whether it be a personal or professional relationship.

However, becoming a
Certified Nurse Midwife didn’t appeal to our midwife.

She felt like going to nursing school would have gone against her inner constitution. And I totally respect that. Personally, if I were to become a midwife, I’d have a really hard time going to nursing school and immersing myself in the western medicine field.

In an effort to better understand the roles of the different types of midwives, I am going to highlight Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives. This will help you determine which midwife to hire.

What are the differences between Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives?

Here’s what all midwives  have in common:

All midwives subscribe to and believe in the Midwifery Model of Care, which states…

“The Midwifery Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events.

The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • minimizing technological interventions and;
  • identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

The application of this model has been proven to reduce to incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

The Midwives Model of Care definition above is Copyright © 1996-2001, Midwifery Task Force, All Rights Reserved.”

Certified Nurse Midwives, (CNM) provide high-quality care for women of all ages – from expecting to menopause. Nurse Midwives generally work in hospitals, but are not limited to do so unless their agreement states otherwise. CNMs work independently in hospitals and refer high-risk clients to an obstetrician when necessary. CNMs can legally attend home births in some states. One becomes a Nurse Midwife by attending nursing school with an additional midwifery training through Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).

The Certified Professional Midwife, (CPM) credential, issued by NARM (North American Registry of Midwives), is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). CPMs are independent practitioners and assist women in giving birth at home as well as birth centers. Certified Professional Midwives care for women during their childbearing cycle, from pregnancy to postpartum.

In the end, in my opinion, all that really matters is that you hire a midwife! <wink> Make sure you interview as many midwives as possible to decide which midwife will share your values.

Lastly, be sure to check this out! The Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) has put together some incredible videos about midwives lately.

Watch Every Woman Deserves a Midwife and Midwifery Care: What’s In It For Women? They’ll have more videos coming up, so subscribe to their YouTube channel here: I Am A Midwife YouTube Channel. I give them two thumbs up for quality, professional and informative social media marketing! The birth world needs it!

Now it’s time to hear from you! Was your midwife a CNM or a CPM? (or maybe a direct entry or lay midwife?) Where you happy with the overall care you received? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Photo credits
CMN: http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/Midwifery.htm
CPM:  http://narm.org/certification/

Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Erin Marten-Snyder says:

    I had my first daughter at home with a CNM who attends homebirths and will do the same with number two due in Oct/Nov. I would be equally comfortable with a CPM, but there are not a whole lot in my area. I am also (in two weeks) a newly graduated nurse and plan to attend Frontier Nursing University as soon as I can to obtain a master’s in midwifery as well as a post-master’s certificate as a family nurse practitioner so that I can care for women and families along their life span. I chose this route because I knew that it was the best route for me. Nursing school was tough and I definitely came up against some opinions and lessons I did not jive with. But I made a great friend in my maternity nursing instructor and she invites me back every semester to give a lesson about “alternative birth”, so I have seen first hand how there are opportunities everywhere to teach others about normal birth. I now work as a doula and attend births as a birth assistant for my midwife. I believe that it is entirely possible to create a nice blend between the two worlds and I know for a fact that many of the women that I have been a doula for in the hospital setting would agree. Ultimately, I love birth, I love mommas, and I love babies. I love the look of surprise on a momma’s face when her baby is born and I love watching partners and grandmas and sisters fumble over the camera and the phone as they are spreading the good news. No matter where I end up doing this, I don’t think I will ever get tired of having this honor.

  2. Laura Zoey says:

    I used a CPM for my second daughters home birth, she had attended nearly 1900 births and was nearing retirement. She was amazing and provided great care, the birth went off well and she handled exessive bleeding I had calmly and competently! I have no negative thoughts about her care and would have used her again if she hadn’t retired. The midwife I’ve found for my next birth is I believe a CNM but she has a home birth practice and has stopped practicing in hospitals due to her experiences. She delivers also at a free standing birth center. In the end I feel like the midwife you can find and connect to on a personal level is the right choice for you :)

  3. Leah says:

    Hmmmmm……My CPM does all of these things. On top of doing pre-natal, birth, and post-partum care she also does Pap-smears, meno-pause counseling, annual exams, etc. Most of the CPMs in my area have had additional training that qualifies them to provide this care. My homebirth friends all continue to see their CPM for their well-woman care. In fact, I am very excited that my 5 year old daughter will be able to have her first annual exam and puberty discussion with the woman who attended her birth. Maybe it is a regional difference? And maybe your midwife just really likes working with women for that period of time and is not interested in delving into the rest of women’s health over the lifespan.

    And, yes, it was an amazing birth – a totally different experience than I had had with my sons in a hospital setting. I loved my midwife and we have hired her again for the birth of #4 due in about 6 weeks!

  4. Angie L. says:

    Licensed midwives also do well woman care during and beyond childbearing years, but most insurances don’t cover them. So you definitely can continue to see your midwife, even without having more kids! :)

    I’m training to be a LM and just did an exam on a menopausal woman the other day!

  5. Hannah says:

    Hospital CNM for my first, homebirth with a CPM for my second. :)

  6. Thanks for that great and clear explanation of the differences between CNMs and CPMs. And some CPMs do provide all of that well women care (mine does!).

    Thanks also for spotlighting MANA’s I Am A Midwife video series. We are working to do what you are doing- spreading the word about the wonderful skills and work of midwives, CNMs and CPMs.

    The next installment in the I Am A Midwife series, “Midwives Know Birth Matter,” is being released tomorrow mid-morning, just before mother’s day.

    Any chance you could share it? We appreciate the support! Thanks for all that you do!

  7. bringbirthhome says:

    I’m so glad to share that my doula informed me my CPM will in fact take care of my whole-woman needs as well. Only thing is, no insurance covering.


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