Midwives in the United States
Midwives in the United States provide assistance to childbearing women during pregnancy, labor and birth, and the postpartum period. Before the turn of the 20th Century, traditional midwives were informally trained and helped deliver almost all births. Today, midwives are professionals who must undergo several formal training routes.
Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)
A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is a professional independent midwife certified by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and adheres to the Midwives Model of Care. The CPM is the only US credential that requires knowledge and experience for out-of-hospital settings. CPM certification process consists of two steps:
- The validation of midwifery education, through one of the following categories:
- Graduation of a midwifery education program accredited by Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC).
- NARM's Portfolio Evaluation Process (PEP) pathway.
- Midwifery licensure of a state approved by NARM.
- Midwifery international education.
- AMCB-certification CNM or CM.
- The NARM Written Examination
CPMs would have to apply for recertification every three years.
Certified Midwife (CM)
A Certified Midwife (CM) is a midwife certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). The CM route was created more recently in 1997 in order to provide an alternative entry in midwifery. The CM program is at the post-baccalaureate level. Candidates can apply for admissions to a midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) with a bachelor’s degree and completion of relevant courses in the sciences. After completion of the education component, CM candidates earn a master’s degree and are eligible to take the national exam toward certification. All CMs must pass the same national certification exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). CMs also have to go through a recertification process every five years.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse who has advanced training in women's health care certified by American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). CNMs focus especially on care of women and their families during pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period. CNMs are licensed, and practice in every state. CNMs provide physical and emotional support during normal birth that can reduce the rate of complications and interventions. CNMs practice in hospital, birth center and home settings, with the majority associated with a hospital or birth center. CNMs practice with OB/GYN backup, and are taught to identify conditions which are beyond their scope of practice and consult with, or refer to physician care as appropriate. They also provide well-woman care, including annual exams, birth control, infection checks, and pre-pregnancy counseling.
The US Midwifery Education, Regulation, and Association (US MERA) is made up of individuals from seven national organizations: North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC), Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) and American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). These organizations have worked together since 2011 to “envision and work toward a more cohesive midwifery presence inspired and informed by global midwifery standards and competencies adopted by the International Confederation of Midwives in 2011” 
Childbirth in the United States has traditionally been attended by midwives. During the seventeenth century, the English colonies strictly had women midwives to attend childbirths. Town records indicate some well-known midwives including Bridget Fuller (d. 1664) who practiced in the Massachusetts Bay colony and Mrs. Wiat of Dorchester (d. 1705) who attended over 1,000 births. Others such as Ruth Barnaby (1664-1765) and Elizabeth Phillips (1685-1761) practiced for over forty years. While Elizabeth Phillips was trained in London before continuing her practice in Boston, other midwives such as Ann Eliot may have acquired medical skills through their husbands.
Similarly, in the Dutch colony of New Netherland, women were also established in midwifery practices. In 1633 in New Amsterdam, the colonists constructed a building for the official midwife. This position was held by Mrs. Trynje in 1644 and Hellegond Joris in 1655. Later in 1658, the Dutch councillors of New Amsterdam appointed midwife Hilletje Wilbruch to oversee a new hospital. Although the English later took over New Amsterdam and renamed it New York, women continued to be prominent in midwifery.
- "What is a Midwife?", Midwives Alliance of North America
- "What is a CPM?", North American Registry of Midwives
- "CPM Certification Process", North American Registry of Midwives
- "Comparison of Three Types of Midwifery Certification", American College of Nurse-Midwifery, August 2011.
- "Direct-Entry Midwifery State-by-State Legal Status". Mana.org. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
- "US MERA Report". MANA. Retrieved 23 Aug 2014.
- Donegon, Jane B., Women & Men Midwives: Medicine, Morality, and Misogyny in Early America. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1978.
- North American Registry of Midwives
- Midwives Alliance of North America
- National Association of Certified Professional Midwives
- The Association of Midwifery Educators
- American Midwifery Certification Board
- The American College of Nurse-Midwives