Sunday, June 12, 2011

What does it mean to be a midwife?

Most of the midwives the U.S. are certified nurse-midwives (CNMs). The CNM - by definition as far as I know - is an RN with a Master's degree. However, most of the midwives that attend births at home are direct-entry midwives (DEMs), often certified professional midwives (CPMs). DEMs train for three years of coursework and apprenticeship, but they have no nurse training. Some DEM programs, like Bastyr University's, require a Bachelor's degree as a prereq, but most programs do not require a college degree.

To give you the numbers, about 8% of births in the U.S. are attended by midwives, but only 1% of all births are home births (Source: Pushed). Taking those numbers, I think we can say that roughly 1 in 8 US midwives are DEMs, and they are the ones who attend homebirths.

One of the criticisms leveled at home birth in the U.S. is that its attendants are underqualified, and that home birth in all other developed countries are attended by CNM-equivalents. (See here for an example of such an assertion.) I wonder: Is that true?

So, I'm going to do a series on midwifery education in other countries. Look for them under the tag "educationseries"!

Also, if anyone would like to contribute a guest post on midwifery education in their country, I would love that! Between the languages that I myself speak and online translators, I figure I can get a decent amount of coverage, but obviously it will be difficult for me to cover countries whose languages I don't speak. Basically I've got German, French, and Spanish covered (and English, of course!). If your country speaks a different language, please e-mail me. You can find my e-mail address in my profile. Just make sure to delete the "DELETETHIS" that I stuck in there to try to prevent robo-spam. :)

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