A midwife is a person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational program, duly recognized in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery.
She must be able to give the necessary supervision, care and advice to women during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period, to conduct deliveries on her own responsibility and to care for the newborn and the infant. This care includes preventative measures, procurement of medical assistance and the execution of emergency measures in the absence of medical help. She has an important task in health counseling and education, not only for the woman, but also within the family and the community. The work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and extends to certain areas of gynecology, family planning and child care. She may practice in hospitals, clinics, health units, domiciliary conditions or in any other service.
(This definition was jointly developed by the International Confederation of Midwives and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics – later adopted by the World Health Organization)
Midwives practice in different settings. They work in hospitals and in the community. Midwives offer a variety of different services.
Services usually include:
Prenatal care for the entire pregnancy
Care during labor at home
Birth in home, hospital or birth center
Postnatal care at home or hospital
- Care at home for up to six weeks
You can get the names of CNMs or CMs in your area by calling the American College of Nurse-Midwives at 202/728-9860 or by using their toll-free practice locator at 888/MIDWIFE. You can also visit the ACNM web page at http://www.midwife.org. If you want to deliver at a specific hospital, ask for the names of midwives who practice there. If you’re interested in delivering at a birth center, call the National Association of Childbearing Centers at 215/234-8068.
If you want a home birth, check with ACNM or the Association for Childbirth at Home International at 213/663-4996. For a direct-entry midwife in your area, call the Midwives’ Alliance of North America at 888-923-6262.
At your first visit to a midwife, she’ll take a comprehensive medical history, perform a physical exam, and have laboratory screenings done. If you have certain medical or obstetrical problems — such as high blood pressure or triplets — you may be referred to an obstetrician or a perinatalogist (a high-risk specialist).