What Kind of Schooling Do I Need to Become a Midwife?

Midwives have been helping women safely give birth to babies for thousands of years. In today’s modern world, midwives work with hospitals, doctors and mothers to care for pregnant women and newborn babies. To become a midwife, you must undergo years of education at a college or university, work with an experienced practitioner and follow licensure requirements in your state. The exact kind of schooling that you require depends on your state, previous medical experience and desired level of certification. Regardless of the exact requirements, your training will require classroom and hands-on training

Certified Nurse-Midwives

In most states, midwives are required to have formal training as a nurse. This training can be provided at an undergraduate or graduate level. If you are a registered nurse without a bachelor’s of science in nursing, you may be able to find a bridge program that will grant you a BSN and midwifery training. With a BSN, you are eligible to enter a master’s level program to become a midwife. With a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than nursing, you can enter an accelerated program to earn your BSN and go on to the master’s program. No matter what path you take to earn your nursing education, you will use it every day as you care for expectant mothers.

Because certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are trained as nurses, they do more than other midwives. CNMs provide prenatal care, healthy baby check-ups and even gynecological services for non-pregnant women. With a nursing licensure and a master’s degree in midwifery or nursing, a CNM can care for women throughout the lifespan, not just at birth.

Certified Professional Midwives

Unlike certified nurse midwives, a certified professional midwife (CPM) focuses on pregnant women. CPMs are not registered nurses but still serve their communities as licensed healthcare professionals. If you’re interested in working as a CPM, you must complete educational requirements and a state-administered exam. You may need to take courses or work as an apprentice with a certified midwife. CPMs are legally allowed to practice in 26 states.

Direct-Entry Midwives

A direct-entry or lay midwife does not have the professional licensure of a CNM or a CPM. In some states, these midwives are not regulated at all. Direct-entry midwives may serve isolated communities that wish to avoid government regulation, like the Amish, or might be trained as an apprentice by a long-standing practitioner. Some states do not allow direct-entry midwives to attend births; instead, all midwives must be CNMs or CPMs.

The schooling required to become a midwife depends on where you live and what level of practice you which to obtain. If you are interested in serving a traditional or rural community, then consider an apprenticeship to become a direct-entry midwife. To practice at a birthing center, look into earning certification as a professional midwife. If you have a nursing degree or a strong desire to enter the nursing profession, then become a certified nurse-midwife. No matter what option you choose, you can look forward to a rewarding career helping women and babies.