Hawai'i State Affiliate

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a nurse-midwife different from a doctor?

Nurse-midwives are trained in the care of primarily healthy women, both pregnant and non-pregnant. The model used is a holistic model of care that incorporates physical, mental, and social needs of the entire family. Studies show that this model of behavior results in fewer use of interventions such as medications, cesareans, etc.

Can a nurse-midwife administer medications in labor for pain relief?

Yes, nurse midwives working in hospitals have access to all of the pain medications that physicians do, including narcotics and epidurals. However, nurse midwives use a variety of nonpharmacological techniques for laboring women including position changes, hydrotherapy, and other techniques. Evidence has shown that many of these techniques offer equal and in some cases, improved pain relief and are well received by laboring women.

Women who choose to birth at home or in a freestanding birth center would not have access to epidurals or an extensive list of medications, but do have the opportunity to use the nonpharmacological techniques discussed above.

How much training does a nurse-midwife have?

Currently a Masters degree is required to become a Nurse Midwife. Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) must graduate from an accredited education program and pass a certification exam. CNMs are licensed in all 50 states. Their standards of practice are set by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and by state licensing organizations. Many CNMs also have other forms of training such as childbirth educator, lactation consultant, massage therapist, family nurse practitioner, or other advanced degrees. For more information on why to choose a CNM/CM, please visit the ACNM page Why should you choose a certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
or certified midwife (CM)?

CPMs are Certified Professional Midwives who are not licensed in Hawaii. They are certified through The North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). NARM is an international certification agency whose mission is to establish and administer certification for the credential "Certified Professional Midwife" (CPM). To read more about a recent study of home births by CPMs, please visit the British Medical Journal site at http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/330/7505/1416.

If I go to a nurse-midwife, do I need a doula or labor assistant?

These are two different issues. A nurse-midwife does provide labor support but the decision for a doula is something you should discuss with your midwife. Some women with special needs find that they need both professionals while others are comfortable with a nurse midwife alone.

Nurse midwives and doulas are a perfect team for women giving birth, but the decision on who will attend a birth is a personal decision that can only be answered by mothers, their midwives, partners, and family.

Can a nurse-midwife take care of my baby?

Nurse-midwives are trained to take care of newborns as part of their basic education. If you choose to deliver your baby at home or in a birth center, your nurse-midwife will be responsible for the care of your baby at birth and up to a month thereafter. If you deliver in a hospital, the nurse-midwife is less likely to take care of your baby unless she/he works with a family physician. You would be asked to identify a provider for your baby. That could be a family physician, pediatrician, or other health care provider.

How can I find a midwife?

ACNM hosts a database of around 4,000 midwifery practices. For more information, or to find a midwife, please visit the ACNM Find a Midwife page.

Other Questions

If you have another general question, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].  Please refer specific medical questions to your provider.


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