Midwives have existed for centuries-long before hospital care was available. Popular in other developed countries, nurse midwives first appeared in the U.S. in the 1920s. Even with technological advances, the nurse-midwife profession continues to thrive today. Rooted in the belief that women should have a supportive environment during and after their pregnancy, nurse-midwifery promotes traditional births for low-risk pregnancies. Read what you’ll do in our nurse midwife job description.
Your desire to care for others and promote women and infant health are two of the necessary qualities for a successful career as a nurse midwife. Your expertise will give patients the education to make the right decisions for themselves and their baby.
What does a nurse midwife do?
A nurse midwife typically works in hospitals, private practices, birthing centers, health maintenance organizations and health departments. You’ll want to consider your personal needs and preferences (Do you want regular hours? Are you interested in working on your own?) to decide what type of establishment you’ll want to work in.
Certified Midwife (CM): Have a health-related background (physician assistant, etc.), but are not registered nurses. Licensed to practice in just a few states.
Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): Registered nurses who graduated from an accredited nurse-midwifery program.
Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM): Received a midwifery education, but earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-related field.
On the job, nurse midwives:
Stay by a soon-to-be-mother’s side through the labor and childbirth process
Look for complications or situations where a medical doctor is required
Educate women on birth options and their unique health issues
Prepare a mother for what’s to come during labor, childbirth and postpartum
Teach a mother how to breastfeed and care for their infant
What career paths can I take in nurse midwifery?
Nurse-midwives are most commonly associated with providing care before, during and after childbirth. However, nurse midwives are also considered primary care providers for women throughout their lifespan, not just during pregnancy. This means they can conduct physical exams, order and review tests, prescribe medication and other medical functions. They’ve become popular since they can perform many of the same tasks as a physician.
Nurse midwives can also head down another career path. If you’re interested in education or public policy, there are degree programs which will guide you in that direction.
If you’re interested in providing a supportive environment for women and their families, becoming a nurse midwife may be for you.