How Can I Arrange the Best Birth Support?

If you are interested in having a holistic childbirth, you will want to choose a midwife or doctor who understands and supports this, and encourages your active participation in making decisions and choices. (This can be challenging if your insurance coverage or the area where you live limits your choices.)

What are my provider choices?

pregnant coupleIf you live in the United States, your choices for pregnancy and birth care providers are outlined below (in alphabetical order). In other countries, practice credentials might vary somewhat. In many countries, midwives provide care for almost all low-risk women, with obstetricians caring for women with risk factors.

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM). CNMs are registered nurses who have completed an accredited program of midwifery, typically at the master's level, and who have passed a national certification exam. CNMs generally attend births in hospitals or birth centers, but some may have homebirth practices.
     
  • Certified Midwife (CM). CMs are non-nurses who have completed an accredited program of midwifery, typically at the master's level, and who have passed the same national certification exam as CNMs. CMs are licensed to practice in some, but not all, states. CMs generally attend births in hospitals or birth centers, but some may have homebirth practices.
     
  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). A CPM is a midwife who has completed an accredited midwifery program or an alternative educational program such as an apprenticeship approved by the North American Registry of Midwives, and has passed a national certification exam. Unlike CNMs, CPMs do not prescribe medication. Each state licenses or otherwise regulates the practice of CPMs differently, and there are some states in which CPMs may not legally attend births. Click for state requirements. CPMs generally attend births in homes or birth centers.
     
  • Family Practice Physician (FP). FP physicians are medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy (DOs) who have completed medical school and a family medicine residency program. Physicians are licensed in all states. The Board Certification examination for FPs is optional and not a legal requirement of practice, although it may be required to work in most hospitals and practices. Not all FP physicians provide obstetric care. FP physicians generally attend births in hospitals. Very few attend homebirths.
     
  • Noncertified midwife. Noncertified midwives may be known by several titles, including traditional midwives or lay midwives. Educational backgrounds might vary since there is no certification agency to verify educational requirements or accreditation. Each state regulates the practice of noncertified midwives differently, and there are some states where noncertified midwives may not legally attend births. Click for state requirements.
     
  • Obstetrician (OB). OBs are medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathy (DOs) who have completed medical school and an obstetrics residency program. Physicians are licensed in all states. The Board Certification examination for OBs is optional and not a legal requirement of practice, although it may be required to work in most hospitals and practices. OBs generally attend births in hospitals or births centers. Very few attend homebirths.