How Much Are Midwives?

A midwife measures the height of the mother's fundus at about 26 weeks to determine the probable gestational age of the fetus.
A midwife measures the height of the mother's fundus at about 26 weeks to determine the probable gestational age of the fetus. | Source

As the number of people choosing to have a midwife attend their birth increases so do the number of people with questions. (In 2009 8.12% of births were attended by midwives according to the National Center for Health Statisticsthough they did mention that this number may be lower than is accurate as some hospitals require a physician be listed as attendant.) How much does it cost for a midwife? What exactly will her service entail? What is a midwife?

What is a Midwife?

There are three types of midwives: certified nurse-midwife (CNM), certified midwife (CN) and certified professional midwife (CPM). The midwives receive their certification from either the American Midwifery Certification Board or the North American Registry of Midwives.

CNMs must have an active registered nurse license and graduate from a nurse midwifery education program. They must re-certify every five years and are licensed to practice in all fifty states.

CNs must graduate from a nurse midwifery education program. They must re-certify every five years and are licensed to practice in New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. CNs are also authorized to practice in Delaware and Missouri.

CPMs can either complete and apprenticeship program or receive formalized education through a midwifery education program. CPMs is currently the only midwife credential that requires experience in out-of-hospital settings. They must re-certify every three years and are regulated in 26 states through various means.

CNMs and CMs are trained to cover the range of women's health care needs throughout her life, while CPMs focus on the care of women and newborns during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

What Do Midwives Do?

CNMs and CMs are trained to provide primary health care for women from adolescence beyond menopause. They also provide care for normal infants for the first 28 days and can treat male partners with sexual transmitted infections. They can also prescribe medications. CNMs and CMs provide a full range of services and work in a variety of settings from hospitals and public health systems to birth centers and homes.

CPMs monitor a woman during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. If complications arise a CPM will recommend appropriate management collaborating with other health care providers as needed. CPMs typically work in birth centers and private homes working toward personalized and comprehensive care.

All midwives will provide you with prenatal care, hands on continous support during labor and birth, breastfeeding support and post-birth visits. Additionally, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, "Planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births in the United States." (BMJ 2005;330:1416) In other words using a CPM did not increase the risk to the baby but did result in lower rates of epidural (4.7%), episiotomy (2.1%), forceps (1.0%), vacuum extraction (0.6%), and caesarean section (3.7%). And this was when compared to low risk hospital births.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Midwife?

The cost for a midwife will vary depending on the individual midwife and where in the country you live. Also, if you plan to use a hospital or birth center there will be additional fees. According to Mothers Naturally the cost ranges from $1,800 to $6,500 for a home birth. Most sources list the average midwife cost as $3,000.

I hope this information helps you make a more informed decision regarding your birthing choices.

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