All midwives provide prenatal, labor and delivery as well as postnatal care to patients. The major differences can be found in education requirements as well as scope of practice.

Certified Midwife (CM)

A Certified Midwife has obtained his or her certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), has completed an undergraduate degree and completed required health and science courses as part of their Midwifery Program. It is important to note that this individual does not have to have an undergraduate degree in a medical specialty but rather has taken courses to fulfill the requirements.

The CM scope of practice includes primary healthcare services for women from adolescence through menopause, family planning, prenatal, childbirth, post-partum care, STI prevention and treatment as well as a broad array of education and counseling services. They can be found in all settings including hospitals, birth centers, offices and homes. The majority of CMs attend births in hospitals.

CMs only in certain states have the ability to prescribe medications and obtain licensure. This certification is not recognized in some states.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

A Certified Nurse Midwife has also obtained his or her certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). One of the major differences between a CM and CNM is the CNM has completed an undergraduate nursing degree and obtained their RN license. The CNM, like the CM has completed the Midwifery Program.

Their scope of practice is the same as a CM and they also attend most births in hospitals and can be found in the same settings. The major difference between the CM and CNM is that in all states, CNMs have the ability to prescribe medications and obtain licensure.

RELATED: Midwifery Salary

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)

The prerequires to enter a Midwifery Program for this certification include a high school diploma and demonstration of competency in specific areas of knowledge and skills. Programs vary in requirements but may include science and health courses, experience in childbirth and possible doula certification. The certification is issued through North American Registry of Midwives' (NARM).

Midwifery as practiced by CPMs scope is narrowed to prenatal, childbirth, postpartum and 6-8 weeks of care for mother and baby following delivery. They can be found in birth centers, offices and homes. The majority of CPMs attend births in homes or in birth centers.

CPMs do not have any prescribing abilities in any states. However, in some they can obtain additional education requirements for medications administration. In more than half of the United States, the CPM can obtain licensure that is regulated by different licensing agencies.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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