What is a nurse-midwife (CNM)?

Philosophy of the American College of Nurse-Midwives

A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is an individual educated in the two disciplines of nursing and midwifery, who possesses evidence of certification according to the requirements of ACNM. CNMs provide primary healthcare to women of childbearing age including:

• Prenatal care
• Labor and birth care
• Care after birth
• Gynecological exams
• Newborn care
• Assistance with family planning decisions
• Preconception care
• Menopausal management
• Counseling in health maintenance and disease
prevention


CNMs are licensed/independent health care providers with prescriptive authority in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. CNMs are defined as primary care providers under federal law.

What does the word midwife mean?

The word midwife is an Old English expression which means “with woman.” The term was used as early as 1303. The profession of nurse-midwifery was brought to the United States from England in the 1920’s so that Frontier Nursing Service could provide care to women in rural eastern Kentucky. The project was extremely successful, and in the following years CNM’s have established a growing reputation for safe and affordable maternal and infant care.

We, the midwives of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, affirm the power and strength of women and the importance of their health in the well-being of families, communities and nations. We believe in the basic human rights of all persons, recognizing that women often incur an undue burden of risk when these rights are violated.

We believe every person has a right to:
•Equitable, ethical, accessible quality health care that promotes healing and health
•Health care that respects human dignity, individuality and diversity among groups
•Complete and accurate information to make informed health care decisions
•Self-determination and active participation in health care decisions
•Involvement of a woman’s designated family members, to the extent desired, in all health care experiences

We believe the best model of health care for a woman and her family:
• Promotes a continuous and compassionate partnership
• Acknowledges a person’s life experiences and knowledge
• Includes individualized methods of care and healing guided by the best evidence available
• Involves therapeutic use of human presence and skillful communication

We honor the normalcy of women’s life cycle events. We believe in:
• Watchful waiting and non-intervention in normal processes
• Appropriate use of interventions and technology for current or potential health problem
• Consultation, collaboration and referral with other members of the health care team as needed to provide optimal health care

We affirm that midwifery care incorporates these qualities and that women’s health care needs are well-served through midwifery care.

Finally, we value formal education, lifelong individual learning, and the development and application of research to guide ethical and competent midwifery practice. These beliefs and values provide the foundation for commitment to individual and collective leadership at the community, state, national and international level to improve the health of women and their families worldwide.

carolroedocker@gmail.com © 2011 Carol Roedocker