A professional certified midwife practices independently in the field of prenatal, postpartum, and delivery care of pregnant women. This care takes place typically in the home of the patient, or in specialized birthing centers. The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) has strict standards that a potential certified midwife must meet before the applicant can receive credentials to practice.
Virtually all certified midwives and nurse-midwives have received training and degrees through university programs. Just about all candidates will earn a master's degree before certification. There are also opportunities for individuals to receive an online degree to become a certified midwife and offer services.
In a midwife program, the expectant mother will typically receive guidance and council concerning health needs and care during her pregnancy. The patient will be educated on how to maintain an optimum level of health for herself and unborn child. The midwife will offer advice in all aspects of childbirth and prenatal care. Midwifery services also involve special care during the postpartum period as well.
Reinforcement during childbirth, which consists of assisting during labor and delivery is a major function of a certified midwife. The service provided by a midwife however, begins with the early stages of prenatal development. A professionally trained certified midwife will have received education in nursing. Therefore, midwives may offer gynecological advice and examinations if preferred.
In some situations, certified midwives will not accept patients with pre-existing medical conditions. This rule, however, may vary depending on region. In cases where the pregnancy requires care from a specialist or other medical interventions, a certified midwife may work in conjunction with a physician or team of medical professionals.
As part of their training, certified midwives receive specialized instruction in diagnosing any potential abnormalities in a pregnancy. If a midwife suspects an imminent problem with the pregnancy, she can refer the patient to expert medical care. Often the midwife has a team of physicians she may confer with during such situations.
Offering support for family planning is another typical service provided in a certified midwife program. Counseling for unwed mothers, and advice for seeking assistance may be offered. The midwife program may also offer support for grief counseling after miscarriage.
A vast majority of certified midwives will accept most medical insurance plans. There may be exceptions in the case of some independent certified midwife services, however. It is best to inquire directly to learn if a particular insurance plan covers these services.