Modern Midwifery Services: How & When to Hire a Midwife

Are you pregnant or looking to become pregnant? Congratulations! One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is who you want to administer your pre- and postnatal care. Midwives are an excellent option for many expecting mothers, but they’re not right for everyone. Below, we explain what midwifery services are and explore the five different types of midwives. We also offer advice on when and how to hire a midwife.

What Are Midwifery Services?

A midwife’s job is to assist a woman during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period (the six weeks following birth). Midwifery services will vary from one midwife to another depending on what type of certification they have, but often include:

  • Assisting with family planning
  • Monitoring the mother’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being throughout the entire process
  • Educating the mother about nutrition, exercise, lactation, and other aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care
  • Administering prenatal care (for example, performing obstetrical examinations, ordering bloodwork, and prescribing medication)
  • Recognizing potential complications and determining whether the mother requires a physician’s care
  • Coaching the mother through the childbirth process
  • Delivering the baby
  • Caring for both the mother and the newborn baby during the postpartum period

What Are the 5 Types of Midwives?

There are five different types of midwives, which are distinguished from one another based on their training and credentials. These include:

  • Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) – A certified nurse midwife is a registered nurse who received additional training in pregnancy and childbirth, earned a graduate degree in nurse midwifery, and was certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Because certified nurse midwives are trained in anatomy, physiology, and obstetrics, they’re generally able to offer sound medical advice.
  • Certified midwives (CMs) – In many aspects, certified midwives are similar to certified nurse midwives. For example, like certified nurse midwives, certified midwives hold a master’s degree in midwifery and are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. However, while certified nurse midwives completed nursing school, certified midwives earned their undergraduate degree in a different area.
  • Certified professional midwives (CPMs) – To become a certified professional midwife, someone needs to complete coursework and pass a competency test from the North American Registry of Midwives. While certified nurse midwives and certified midwives typically assist with hospital deliveries, certified professional midwives work with women who are giving birth at home or at a birth center.
  • Direct-entry midwives (DEMs) – Like certified professional midwives, direct-entry midwives assist with home births and those taking place at birth centers. But a direct-entry midwife receives training at midwifery school, a midwifery college program, or an apprenticeship.
  • Lay midwives (LMs) – Unlike the other types of midwives, lay midwives are generally not considered to be medical professionals. As such, they usually work with individuals practicing alternative medicine.

It’s important to distinguish midwives from doulas, who offer support but do not administer medical care.

When to Hire a Midwife

As was noted above, midwifery services aren’t right for everyone. Despite the many services that midwives offer, they’re unable to administer epidurals or perform cesarean deliveries, and they generally cannot perform forceps or vacuum deliveries. As such, midwifery services are most appropriate for women who desire a more natural birth and have a low risk of developing complications (although they may still assist OB/GYNs with higher-risk pregnancies).

How to Hire a Midwife

If you’re interested in hiring a midwife, it’s important to act quickly after finding out that you’re pregnant. Many women believe they can wait until later on in their pregnancies to take this important step, but the earlier you hire a midwife, the more assistance they’ll be able to offer you throughout the process. As such, soon after taking a positive home pregnancy test, you should call your OB/GYN (or, if you don’t have one, your primary care physician) and set up a pregnancy confirmation appointment.

During your visit, be sure to let your doctor know that you’re considering hiring a midwife. They’ll walk you through the pros and cons and let you know whether midwifery services are appropriate for your specific circumstances. If they believe that you could benefit from using a midwife, they may be able to recommend some to you. You can also ask for recommendations from friends and family members who have previously used a midwife.

Choosing a midwife is an incredibly important decision. Before hiring someone to provide you with midwifery services, be sure to request a list of references and ask them about:

  • Their training, certifications, and experience
  • The specific services they provide
  • Where they usually assist with childbirths (for example, at a hospital, a birth center, or the mother’s home)
  • Their typical delivery process
  • Their backup plan in case of an emergency
  • Payment options (for example, whether they accept health insurance)

Your Top Choice for Midwifery Services in Tampa Bay

If a midwife sounds like the right choice for your needs, you can entrust your care to the professionals at Florida Medical Clinic. Our experienced OB/GYN team includes certified nurse midwives who possess the skills and training needed to provide patients with the top-quality care they deserve. In addition to offering the midwifery services described above, our certified nurse midwives can also conduct routine gynecological exams, perform pap smears, and prescribe birth control. Florida Medical Clinic has multiple locations across the Tampa Bay area, including one at 14014 N 46th Street in North Tampa. Click here to request an appointment with Dr. Patel at that office.

About Dr. Niraj Patel, MD, FACOG

A Tampa Bay native, Dr. Patel earned his undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida, then went on to attend medical school at the Saba University School of Medicine. He received training in obstetrics and gynecology at Howard University Hospital and Aurora Sinai Medical Center, and he is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. When he’s not caring for patients, Dr. Patel enjoys spending time with his family, riding horses, lifting weights, and playing football and basketball.

Meet Our Certified Nurse Midwife

Sarah McGuire, APRN, CNM

Caring for her patients and their families is Sarah’s biggest passion.




Obstetrics, Gynecology & Midwifery

About this author.


Niraj Patel, MD, FACOG

Obstetrics, Gynecology & Midwifery

  • Accepting new patients

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