What Do Midwives Do?

Although many people associate midwives strictly with helping women through the birthing process, Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Midwives (CMs) are highly trained health care professionals who provide care for women from adolescence through the end of life, in addition to providing the traditional pre-natal through post-natal care.

Midwives approach pregnancy as a normal life process that generally requires minimal technological intervention, although they also watch for signs that a woman needs to be referred to an obstetrician. Midwives support the complete well-being of a pregnant woman, offering assistance beyond the physical aspects of pregnancy.

Certified Nurse-Midwife Job Description

The primary difference between a CNM and CM is that a CM doesn’t have a nursing background; otherwise, both have a graduate degree and are generally qualified to offer the same services independent of physician supervision. However, relatively few CMs practice in the U.S. because few programs train CMs and few states grant them legal recognition.

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Although the role of a nurse-midwife or certified nurse midwife varies depending on state law, in general the responsibilities they can take on include:

  • Providing primary and specialty health care for women, including conducting physical exams and diagnosing, treating, and managing medical conditions – some states let nurse-midwives write prescriptions
  • Treat women’s male partners for sexually transmitted diseases
  • Counseling and educating patients
  • Providing newborn care for the first 28 days
  • Providing support through perimenopause and menopause

When specifically working with pregnant women, CNM and CM job duties include the following:

  • Providing pregnancy care by monitoring the health of the mother-to-be and her unborn baby
  • Provide education, counseling, and prenatal care individualized to each woman
  • Assist during labor and delivery
  • Provide follow-up care for mom and baby after delivery, including advice on issues such as breastfeeding

Certified Nurse Midwife Jobs in Various Settings

The most recent survey conducted by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (in 2007) found the following distribution of CNM jobs among various settings:

  • Hospital/Medical Center 32.7%
  • Physician Practice 30.5%
  • Community Health 8.5%
  • Academic Institution 8.4%
  • Nurse Practitioner Health Agency 4.1%
  • Government/Military 3.6%
  • Own Practice 3.3%
  • Midwife Practice 3.1%
  • Consultant 0.3%
  • Other 5.5%

The 2007 survey also found that the median annual salary for full-time CNMs was $79,093 to $89,916, depending on geographic region. A more recent survey conducted in 2010 by Integrated Healthcare Strategies found that the median base salary for CNMs was $96,418.

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Resources for Certified Nurse Midwives

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