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What Does a Nurse Midwife Do?

Nurse midwives can work in hospitals, birthing centers, private practices or even teach at universities.
Many midwives work in gynecologist offices.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2014
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More commonly referred to as Certified Nurse Midwife or CNM, a nurse midwife is a nursing professional that has been certified as an advance practice nurse. Primarily focused on the care of pregnant women who are good health and have excellent prospects of an uncomplicated pregnancy and easy delivery, midwives of this kind are fully trained registered nurses who have completed additional education and training that allow them to offer additional medical services. While the vast majority of nurse midwives are female, there are a few men who have entered the profession.

Unlike many other types of nurses, the nurse midwife is capable of acting as the primary healthcare provider for women. While many of these advanced practice nurses focus on women who are expecting, the typical nurse midwife may provide healthcare to females of any age. The scope of practice is often limited by regulations set in place by the local medical boards and state level departments that oversee healthcare within the jurisdiction.

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In terms of training, anyone wishing to enter this particular field must be fully trained as a registered nurse, and maintain nursing credentials within the jurisdiction where he or she plans on practicing. In the United States, many state level health departments require that the candidate hold a master’s degree in a relevant field, such as a Master of Science in Nursing. Specific graduate programs for nurse midwives are under development at a number of medical schools, and are likely to become commonplace in the next decade.

Often, a nurse midwife has the authority to write prescriptions for a limited range of medications, and is capable of caring for patients with minor ailments. Depending on where the midwife is practicing, he or she may work in a hospital, a private clinic, or even conduct a private practice. Nurse midwives are often connected with birthing centers. Some midwives are also trained and licensed in the care of newborns, a wide range of therapeutic techniques, and even basic counseling.

While a nurse midwife may work as part of a staff or even independently, it is not unusual for this type of healthcare professional to also work closely with a particular obstetrician or gynecologist, depending on the particular focus of the midwife. At times, this working relationship may be strictly on a consultation basis, or be in the form of a partnership.

While midwifery has a long history of being involved in the processes of labor and delivery, the profession began to lose popularity during the latter part of the 19th century. The enhanced training that is necessary to become a CNM today, coupled with the desire of some women to have their children in an environment other than a hospital, has spurred a resurgence of interest in this particular medical profession. Since the 1990’s, the number of women who choose to engage in natural childbirth with the assistance of a nurse midwife has increased significantly.

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Sporkasia
Post 4

What I appreciated most about having a midwife to assist me during my pregnancy was her availability. She was there whenever I had a question and I was able to meet with her more often than I could meet with my doctor.

Honestly, having her by my side was like having a professional who I could depend on, and like having a friend at the same time. My nurse midwife and I still get together from time to time just to catch up and have lunch.

Animandel
Post 3

@mobilian33 - A lot of people think the same way as you do about the duties and the training of a midwife nurse. The transformation in the way the midwife is seen my the general population is a slow process. However, anyone who has used the services of a midwife knows how talented and well trained these medical professionals are.

Today's midwife is not the same as the midwife of the frontier days. And my no means am I saying that those early women were any less dedicated or any less capable of doing the jobs they did. They provided a great service at a time when women didn't have nearly the access they have to medical care nowadays. However, today's midwife receives much more training than ever before.

mobilian33
Post 2

The article talks about the way the midwife was in earlier times. This is still the way I think of the midwife. She is the woman down the street or on the next farm who is called when a woman is about to have a baby. She has no technical medical training, but she has helped deliver a lot of babies so she has a lot of experience and she knows what she is doing.

Maybe I have watched too many old movies, but this is what I think of when I hear the word midwife or even the term midwife nurse.

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