What is a Midwife?


The literal translation of the word midwife is "with woman."  Midwives in the United States provide healthcare services for
women of all ages. They partner with women to help make important health decisions throughout their lives. There are 2 types of midwives practicing in Massachusetts with some differences in the services they offer.

Certified nurse-midwives (CNM)

Are registered nurses (RNs) who have graduated from an accredited nurse-midwifery program
and passed a national certification exam through AMCB (American Midwifery Certification
Board). They must be licensed to work in the state where they work. CNMs work in all
healthcare settings including hospitals, birth centers, offices, clinics and homes. CNMs
provide general healthcare services throughout a woman's life as well as pregnancy, birth and
postpartum care, and they can prescribe most medications.

Certified professional midwives (CPM)

May have apprenticeship training or have graduated from an accredited formal education
program. They take a national certification exam through the National Association of Certified
Professional Midwives (NACPM). CPMs provide pregnancy, birth and postpartum care for
women outside of the hospital- often in homes and birth centers. CPMs are not able to
prescribe medications and do not work in hospitals.

Most of the midwives in the United States are CNMs. CNMs are licensed in all 50 states, but not all
states license CPMs. Both types of midwives provide care for women during pregnancy, labor, birth and the
postpartum period. CNMs also provide general health services, annual checkups,
contraception (birth control), and have the capability of working in a hospital setting.