So What’s the Difference?

We’ve read and heard a lot of misinformation recently about types of midwives and their training. There is some confusion about how different types of midwives train. We would like to debunk the notion that different types of midwives are more or less trained than other types and point out that there are simply differences in training.

The two types of midwives in most discussions are the CPM, or certified professional midwife, and the CNM, or the certified nurse midwife. The scope of care pertaining to pregnant and postpartum women and newborn babies is virtually the same in Colorado.

Certified Professional Midwife

CPMs train alongside another, very experienced midwife or midwives for years learning her tools of the trade, learning the art of midwifery. They learn textbook skills like the meaning of blood pressure and lab values, but they are also learn soft skills like walking into a room respectfully and assessing the labor of the mom and her needs before you even touch her. A CPM student doesn’t become a midwife until her community feels she is ready to take on the responsibility. As for licensure, the student has spent an average of five years gaining the necessary experience and attended a minimum of 50, but usually closer to 100 births before she sits for an eight-hour proctored exam as the culmination of her training. CPMs can serve women at home births here in Colorado.

Certified Nurse Midwife

A CNM is first a registered nurse, which is a two or four year degree program. As an RN, they can begin to get experience in nursing. After this, they attend nurse-midwifery school as a two to three year program. The nurse midwifery program at CU-Denver requires 720 clinical hours before graduation. They must pass a four-hour proctored exam at the end to be licensed. In Colorado, CNMs can work in clinical or home settings.

CNMs train using the medical model of care, which treats pregnant women as patients who are potentially ill at any time. CPMs train using the holistic model of care that sees each woman as an individual who will likely have a healthy pregnancy and birth with little to no intervention.

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