A midwife is involved in many aspects of a woman’s pregnancy by assisting with her care throughout her pregnancy. They have formal, specialized graduate training in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. They provide wellness exams, medical care, and education to woman who are expecting.
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How to Become a Midwife
You can become a certified midwife or a nurse certified midwife. To become a nurse midwife, you must earn a CNM (certified nurse-midwives) professional designation. To gain this credential, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing to continue onto the formal education needed to earn your CNM. For those nurses that have an associate’s degree in nursing, there are ‘bridge’ programs that will offer the supplemental education you need to then continue to earn your CNM. A CNM can only be given for registered nurses who graduated from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (link opens in a new tab) and pass the certification examination.
Those that are not registered nurse but in a health field other than nursing, can still be accepted into a program. When they complete the program and pass the same certification examination they earn the certified midwife (CM) professional designation.
Job Description of a Midwife
Since midwives are involved throughout a woman’s pregnancy, they do a host of services. They monitor how the fetus is developing in the mother by listening to the heartbeat, taking external measurements of the mother’s belly, checking the position of the fetus, and then providing an estimate of the size and weight of the fetus. They would also ensure the pregnant woman knows exactly what to do when she starts experiencing signs of labor.
Midwives strive to ensure the patient and fetus is safe and healthy throughout the pregnancy. A midwife can even prescribe medicine and order lab work. They also provide education to expecting mothers. This education is especially useful for new parents as they would explain what they can expect when they go into labor, during labor, and any other procedures that may be performed. They would help prepare the new parents for the day the baby comes home.
Midwife Career Video Transcript
Nurse midwives have the monumental responsibility of bringing the next generation into the world. These advanced practice registered nurses conduct many aspects of gynecological care, from providing annual exams and family planning services to prenatal care to birth and delivery. The job of nurse midwives doesn’t start and end in the delivery room. While they manage and treat some birth complications, such as bleeding or lacerations, they also provide care in the months before birth performing examinations, monitoring the fetal heartbeat, and identifying the baby’s position and size. They record this information to diagnose, treat, and prevent issues that may arise.
Nurse midwives also educate their patients about the expected changes throughout pregnancy and birth, potential symptoms to monitor, and about any procedures that their patient is considering. Nurse midwives may work independently through a private practice or on a care team at a hospital or birthing center. They may be needed at all hours to manage labor and deliveries. Nurse midwives must be strong in order to lift and position their patients and may be vulnerable to back injury. To enter the field, candidates typically need a registered nursing license, a master’s degree, and certification. With these professionals, patients can rest assured that the future is in good hands.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nurse Midwives.
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-2099.04. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.