How did you become a midwife? I want to be a doula, can I attend births with you and train to be a midwife? Do I need to become a nurse to be a midwife? I am asked more frequently how to become a midwife by those interested in the world of catching babies than I am asked by expecting families what path I took to train as a midwife. Unfortunately there isn‘t always a clear cut answer available with a google search or a post in a local mom group. So, how do you become a midwife? Actually, the requirements to be a midwife are ever changing. While there are a few variations of the out of hospital midwife I will focus on the two most common types of midwife found in states with licensure; the CPM (certified professional midwife) and the CNM (certified nurse midwife). CPMs are certified by NARM, The North American Registry of Midwives. Traditionally they offered an apprenticeship model process to becoming certified that required the student midwife to work with a preceptor to attend a set number of births in various roles and to sign off on hundreds of skills ranging from hand washing to postpartum hemorrhage management. This process is known as the PEP, or portfolio evaluation process. This process can take anywhere from two to ten years and typically has the student attending around 150 births or more. Depending on your state the PEP process may be a route to becoming a practicing midwife. It is likely, however, that like my state of Michigan licensure comes with the requirement of a MEAC accredited school degree. The shortest of the MEAC programs is Southwest Tech in Wisconsin, and they range from a two year associate degree to a bachelors that can be achieved in three to seven years. Most MEAC accredited midwifery programs are distance learning and require the student to travel to campus only a couple times a year. Again, this varies from school to school.
To become a CNM you must first be a nurse and apply for and attend a midwifery masters program through an university. This route usually takes about six years, four to earn a bachelors in nursing and then two more complete a masters degree in midwifery. If you have a MSN in another area you can complete a post graduate certificate in midwifery in one year. The largest contrast in these two credentials are; CPMs are trained specifically in out of hospital care, while CNMs are trained in and to work in the hospital setting. CNMs typically receive a higher salary and are able to write prescriptions. CPMs are able to work more autonomously as they are not required to work under the supervision of a physician. There are often a lot of questions from those looking into midwifery about how doula training ties into becoming a midwifery student. While many midwifes utilize working as a doula fo pay for their student years and get a foot in the door with providers and preceptors, they are actually very different roles with little overlap. Doulas work as non medical support people during birth. They are not healthcare providers, although they often work closely with them. Filling the doula role may give you an opportunity to attend births as an observer and learn techniques to support laboring people. I’m short it is not necessary to work as a doula before or while studying midwifery.
This article is meant to be a guide in the right direction for those curious about becoming a midwife. Always do your own research and look into different programs. While difficult the journey to midwifery is a rewarding and beautiful one!