What Is A Midwife?

Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs)

The practice of nurse-midwifery was established in the United States in the 1920s by such early leaders as Mary Breckinridge and Hattie Hemschemeyer; since then nurse-midwives have been recognized for their contributions to reducing infant and maternal mortality, premature births, and low birth weight rates. Their skills as primary care providers are evidenced by their low rates of infant mortality, cesarean birth, episiotomy, and use of epidural anesthesia.

Women, children, and families have better lives because of the work of certified nurse midwives. If you want to make a difference and have a positive influence on your health care then midwifery care is for you.
Caring for women during labor and birth is a centerpiece of the professional experience of certified nurse-midwives. Certified nurse midwives also:

  • Provide primary health care to women for comprehensive gynecologic and maternity care and have the responsibility and accountability for their own practice.
  • Use skills to help women to realize personal fulfillment with their labor and birth. Also, through the art of midwifery reduce the need for high-tech interventions for most women. But, when necessary, they are trained to make the latest in safe scientific procedures available to assist a normal birth process.
  • They have the authority to write prescriptions for many of the medications and health care products needed for your health.
  • Empower women to take more active roles in making decisions about their health care and lifestyle habits.
  • Play a key role in reducing the maternal and infant death rate in this country and in the world.

What is the difference between a CNM and other midwives in Utah?

Many midwives in Utah today are CNMs. There are other midwives as well: Direct Entry Midwives (DEMs), Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), Certified Midwife (CM). These providers attend home and birth center births and are not licensed for hospital births, training is done through self-study, apprenticeships or at an independent midwifery school. The other type of midwife is a lay midwife, not licensed or certified and only attend home births. This variety of titles used to label midwifery practices can be confusing for consumers. Additional discussion about the types of midwives is available at the American Pregnancy Association web site:

How do I know that I will get safe care from a midwife?

The American College of Nurse-Midwives believes that midwives should be licensed to practice and should provide their clients with a safe mechanism for consultation, collaboration and referral if needed. In Utah, CNMs have been practicing since 1965. The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing under the Nurse-Midwifery Practice Act regulate nurse-midwifery practice. Utah CNMs have had prescription writing authority since 1982

Why should I choose a Nurse-Midwife if I’m not pregnant?

CNMs offer a variety of health care services and high quality health care for women. We take a complete family and personal medical history and provide a thorough and gentle examination. We will suggest and order age appropriate laboratory and screening exams. Birth control counseling, healthy lifestyle teaching, prescriptions and follow-up exams are also available from your CNM.

We are very interested in promoting healthy lifestyles for all women. Midwives care for adolescents, women of childbearing age and women during menopause. You will be encouraged to ask questions and given time for the answers. We emphasize teaching about risk factors and self care practices that aid in disease prevention. Should you be diagnosed with a medical condition that requires specialized treatment, we have referral relationships with many excellent health care providers in various specialties. Even the U.S. government’s top scientific organization, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that “more reliance be placed on certified nurse-midwives” in delivering primary health care.