Pregnant woman holding her belly with text overlay a day in the life of a certified midwife

What is a Certified Nurse Midwife?

Staff Writer
Mar 28, 2022

A certified nurse midwife is an advanced-practice registered nurse (APRN) and primarily provides gynecologic and family planning services, along with other primary care services, to women of all ages throughout their lifecycles.

Many successful nurses choose to narrow their specialization over the course of their careers depending on their own particular passions and interests. Some people think of nursing as a one-track career when, in fact, the possibilities are many. Specializing can lead nurses toward some of the highest-paying nursing careers, including large earnings made possible by becoming a certified nurse midwife.

If you’re a nursing student or a current working nurse interested in specializing in midwifery down the road, you might be curious to know what it’s like to step into this exciting role. CNMs have very different types of days depending on whether they’re on call or holding regular hours. Some days are full of surprises, while most carry out their expected course. Regardless of what’s going on in the details, here are some activities that are the cornerstone of any CNM’s day-to-day life.

Providing Primary Care for Pregnant Women

Although the joy of expecting a baby is often a great gift for CNMs to be a part of, they also spend a lot of time addressing the worries and fears of parents-to-be. Pregnancy brings a lot of legitimate risks as well as wives’ tales along with it. Every pregnancy is different, and it’s your job to lead the way. A large part of this comes in the form of education. CNMs help point parents toward classes and external resources, but they also spend a great deal of their time talking through various scenarios with their patients.

CNMs can do annual gynecological exams and see patients for a range of women’s health issues, but their primary focus is on pregnancy and birth. They are experts in dealing with a specific set of patient health challenges that arise during pregnancy, from swelling and back pain to high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. They perform physical exams to look for any irregularities in fetal weight, formation, and vitals, and also make sure that everything is running smoothly for the mother.

Assisting in the Childbirth Process

Assisting in birth is yet another instance where certified nurse midwives put their skills to the test. They work closely with obstetricians and other specialists to ensure that both mother and child get through the process as healthy and comfortable as possible. When complications arise, they’re there to troubleshoot and aid in the decisive actions needed to get things back on track. Very few CNMs deliver babies in private homes or birthing centers, but it is a possibility. The majority of births take place in hospitals, which is also the main place of employment for CNMs.

A certified nurse midwife can help deliver a baby with minimal intervention or administer medications and procedures as needed. Although CNMs don’t perform C-sections themselves, they can and do recommend them when absolutely necessary. They’re also pillars of emotional support for birthing mothers, as they’ve developed a bond with them over the course of the pregnancy. They are there to coach and support, which can make all the difference in the moment.

Giving Postpartum and Newborn Care

he tasks of a CNM don’t stop once the newborn baby arrives. New mothers need a specific set of aftercare procedures and tests to make sure that they go home in great shape, and babies also require special attention in their first few days. CNMs educate new parents on the basics of taking their baby home and getting started with parenthood, but they’re also there for any questions or complications that arise with the newborns they’ve helped bring into the world.

Birthing, along with providing regular physical exams and acting as an informational guide, means that CNMs often develop close working relationships with parents over the course of pregnancies. They become trusted confidants, forming friendly bonds that can be very rewarding for all parties involved. This is just one reason why being a “people person” is a wonderful trait for anyone looking to specialize in this field.


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