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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