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.
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
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
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]
"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