What is a certified nurse-midwife (CNM)?
Midwife means “with woman” and CNMs care for women throughout the life cycle. CNMs provide
prenatal, gynecologic, family planning and primary health care. We deliver
babies and support women to breastfeed.
Where do certified nurse-midwives
CNMs in the District practice in a variety of settings including
hospitals, free-standing birth centers, health maintenance organizations,
private practices, not-for-profit clinics and in the home.
CNMs are licensed to practice in all 50 states.
How is a CNM similar to a physician?
Midwives provide comprehensive
reproductive health care to women. We provide prenatal care and deliver babies.
We perform annual screenings such as Pap tests, cholesterol levels and
mammograms. Midwives provide a wide variety of family planning methods and can
treat common health problems. Midwives accept private insurance. Midwives in
the District can prescribe medications. Midwives who practice in hospitals can
order pain medication (such as epidurals).
How is a CNM different from a physician?
Midwifery practice is driven by the belief that the major transitions
in a woman’s life - puberty, pregnancy, birth and menopause - should be safe,
satisfying, and sacred.
CNMs are experts in normal pregnancy and birth. We believe
that with appropriate care, most healthy women can give birth with a minimum of
medical interventions. We believe that medical technology should be used
appropriately and on an individual basis.
Midwives are not trained to perform
surgery. Midwives sometimes manage more complicated patients side-by-side with
physicians. Other times we refer women with significant health problems to our
The professional organization of CNMs is
the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).
Midwives believe in evidence-based practice and encourage active
participation of women and their designated support people in health care
What training and licensing do midwives
CNMs in the District are nurses who have
received advanced training (usually a
master’s degree) to become a midwife. For example, Georgetown University
started educating CNMs in 1975.
CNMs are licensed to practice by the DC
Board of Nursing.