Finding a Midwife Who's Right for You

Legal or Illegal?

As an ancient profession, midwifery exists in almost all cultures. It is the primary form of maternity care in many countries that have some of the best mother/newborn outcomes. In the United States, midwifery was used in a majority of births until the 1930s when the place of birth was moved from the home to the hospital. It was during this time that the legal status of midwifery was put into question among the growing medical field.
 
Although CNMs are legal in every state in the United States, the legality of using a direct-entry midwife varies from state to state. If you are looking to hire a home birth midwife, make sure to ask them which type they are and check out the laws in your state that pertain to their credentials to make sure they match up. If your state has no laws about this issue, it is possible that the issue has largely been settled by court cases instead of legislation.
 
In the United States, there is a national certification given to certified professional midwifes. A CPM receives this certification through the North American Registry of Midwives. If a license is available, it is issued by the state in which the midwife practices.
 

Other Care Providers

In a 2009 study, approximately 62 percent of home births were attended by midwives, with the following breakdown:
 
  • Nineteen percent by CNMs
  • Forty-three percent by other midwives, such as CPMs or other direct-entry midwives.
 
Only 7 percent of hospital births were attended by midwives. In addition, only 5 percent of home births were attended by physicians. Many of these were found to be unplanned home births, possibly due to emergency situations.
 
For home births, 33 percent were reported as delivered by "other" attendants, which may have included a family member or emergency medical technicians.
 
Other care providers you may want to consider during a home birth include doulas. Doulas can also be helpful in encouraging and supporting you through your childbirth experience. However, doulas do have boundaries. Their main purpose is to provide emotional and physical support. They are not able to perform clinical or medical tasks, such as taking blood pressure, checking fetal heartbeats, or performing vaginal examinations (see What Doulas Do and Don't Do).
 
Pregnancy and Pain

Pregnancy Info

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