What You Should Know about Home Births and Midwives

Mama and Baby


A home birth can be a wonderful experience for you, your partner and your baby. While a home birth might seem a little bit out of place in the modern West, it’s important to remember: for the vast majority of human history, home births were the norm.

One of the most important components of your home birth is your choice of midwife. A midwife provides medical support and care for you during labor and delivery. This can include things such as helping you with prenatal care, helping you to learn to breastfeed, performing pre-pregnancy gynecological exams and guiding you through the labor and delivery process.

There are different types of midwives, and not all have the same amount or type of training. In addition, regulations for midwives vary from one state to the next, sometimes greatly. You need to check with your state to see what qualifications midwives are required to have for licensing, and you need to talk to potential midwives about their background, education and experience in helping with labor and delivery.

Here are some of the different types of midwives you’ll encounter:

  • Certified nurse midwives. These midwives are also trained as nurses and have a bachelor’s degree. They are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives and are granted a state license.
  • Certified midwives. These midwives have a college degree, but not necessarily in nursing. They’re certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and may or may not be licensed in your state.
  • Certified professional midwives. These midwives are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives. Some states don’t certify these midwives.
  • Direct entry midwives. This is the lowest level of midwife, and they may receive their training via self-study, an apprenticeship, or workshops. Many states don’t recognize these midwives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that midwives attending a home birth be certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board, as well as licensed in their state.

So, what about you? Have you had, or would you consider, a home birth with a midwife? Why or why not?

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