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What is a midwife

The term “midwife” is an Old English expression dating back to the 14th century which means “with woman.” The term was used as early as 1303. Although midwives were always a part of American births, the nurse-midwife profession was brought to the United States by Mary Breckinridge.  After learning from nurse-midwives in Europe, she founded the Frontier Nursing Service, which provided care to women in rural eastern Kentucky. The service began using nurse-midwives in the United States in 1925. The project was extremely successful and during the next 50 years nurse-midwives established a growing reputation for safe and affordable maternal and infant care.

In the early 1970s, interest in natural childbirth and shared health decision-making brought about a special interest in nurse-midwifery. Childbearing families began to actively seek the individualized care of nurse-midwives. Today over 9,000 certified nurse-midwives practice throughout the United States; and over 38 nurse midwifery education programs are affiliated with a university or an accredited distance education program.

What is a Certified Nurse-Midwife?
A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse who has completed advanced graduate education to provide specialized health care to women regarding:
• Pregnancy & Prenatal Care
• Childbirth, Labor Support, Birth Care at home, birth center or hospital setting
• Care after the birth for mother and baby
• Family planning & Contraception
• Care of women through the lifespan, adolescents through menopause. Yearly well woman exams, paps, STD testing, scheduling lab and other tests - mammograms, DEXA scans. The emphasis is on preventive care and improving the general health of the woman.
• Primary care: ability to prescribe medications, order diagnostic and laboratory tests.


Certified nurse-midwives believe that pregnancy is not an illness, but a normal and beautiful part of the life process. Nurse-midwives devote time to personalized attention and consider all physical, social and cultural needs of each woman.
Nurse-midwives support:
• Women to be active participants in their own health
• Non-intervention in a normal process of labor and birth
• Referral of complications to collaborating physicians and other providers
• Family involvement
• Continuity of care

Certified nurse-midwives in Kansas possess:
• Graduate education from a pre-accredited or accredited university
• A state board of nursing license
• Passing results from a rigorous national exam conducted by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)
• Continuing competency to practice as an advanced practice nurse.

Information about Nurse-Midwifery

For further information about Certified Nurse-Midwives contact:
The American College of Nurse-Midwives
8403 Colesville Rd Suite 1550
Silver Springs, MD 20910-6374
Phone 240-485-1800

For information about nurse midwifery education at KU, ranked in the top 10 education programs in the nation, contact:
The Kansas Nurse-Midwifery Education Program
University of Kansas School of Nursing, Mail Stop #4043
3901 Rainbow Blvd
Kansas City, Kansas 66160-7502

Cara Busenhart, RN, CNM, MSN, Education Program Director (913) 588-3354, [email protected]


In Kansas most health insurance companies - through area employers - cover the cost of health care services provided by certified nurse-midwives. Kansas Medicaid covers pregnancy and women's health care.

Finding a Certified Nurse-Midwife
Be sure to ask for the services of a nurse-midwife. To find a certified nurse- midwife in your area, call the national certified nurse-midwife practice locator service: 1-888-MIDWIFE or check the ACNM Website at www.midwife.org/find.cfm.

"Birth is not only about making babies. Birth also is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength."
~ Barbara Katz-Rothman