Fairview Range Blog

Modern-day Midwives: 8 Facts You Should Know

You’re curious about midwives. How are they different from OBs? Can anyone get one? We’re here to answer all your questions. That’s why we’ve laid out the facts with help from our certified nurse midwife, Robin Etter. Here are 8 things you should know. 

Midwives Are Not OBs. But They Work Well Together. 

“There’s not a better answer, just a different answer depending on what you’re looking for,” Etter explains. “Our approach is more about letting birth happen naturally and letting mom be in control.” OB’s are highly skilled in surgery and c-sections and are the primary option for higher-risk pregnancies. CNMs are also highly skilled professionals, but cannot perform c-sections or other surgeries. Midwives have a holistic approach with an emphasis on education. They are independent healthcare providers but consult, collaborate, and refer to OBs when needed. Both are wholeheartedly focused on the health of mom and baby. 

There Are Different Types of Midwives

There are three types of midwives: CNM, a certified nurse midwife; CM, a certified midwife; and CPM, a certified professional midwife. What is the difference? Education. 

CNMs have a degree in nursing and a master’s degree in midwifery, plus have passed the state board exam. They can prescribe medication and are qualified to work in any birth setting. 

CMs have the same education level as CNMs and have passed the certification exam, but they have a degree in something other than nursing. 

CPMs haven’t taken the boards but have a degree in midwifery. 

If you’re planning a home birth and want a midwife, it’s a good idea to find out their certification level.  

Etter is a CNM, the only type you’ll find accepted in all U.S. hospitals. 

Midwives Aren’t Just for Home Births 
There’s a common misconception that midwives only do home births, but that is false. Midwives are commonplace in hospitals and their popularity continues to rise

CNMs Are Highly Educated
Certified nurse midwives have years of education. They must all have at least a master’s in nursing with a specialty in midwifery. CNMs must also pass a licensing test from the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)

Midwives Are Not Just for Pregnancy
Midwives are not just there for delivery. They provide well-woman visits for all woman. “At this moment, I see young women in their teens through their reproductive years for wellness visits, birth control, bleeding issues, STIs, preconception, prenatal, postpartum, and lactation counsel,” explains Etter. “I also see newborns for the first week.”

You Can Use Pain Management
You can have an epidural with a midwife. Yes, you can go more natural with a midwife, but you don’t have to. “We’re here to make your birth experience the best it can be for you,” Etter says. “We provide education and you make the decision that is best for you.”

Midwives Are Not Doulas 
“They’re completely different roles,” says Etter. CNMs deliver babies, doulas support moms during delivery. “Both are wonderful to have, but the skill levels are vastly different. Certified nurse midwives have years of education while doulas are trained in emotional support and only require a certification course.”  

Midwives Are Covered by Insurance in Hospital Settings
CNMs are covered by insurance when working at a hospital. “Some people worry if they choose a midwife, insurance won’t cover it. As long as they’re a CNM and in a hospital setting, it is covered,” states Etter. 

Midwife or OB? The Choice Is Yours

As you’ve read, both midwives and OBs are highly trained professionals. Fairview Range is the only hospital north of Duluth that offers midwife services. To learn more about our birthing center or contact us, visit the Fairview Range Birthing Center webpage. 

“I’m grateful to Fairview for offering the women of northern Minnesota the choice of a midwife or an OB,” expresses Etter. 



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