Difference Between a (Certified Professional Midwife) CPM and a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife)

“CPM stands for Certified Professional Midwife. CPM’s are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives. Their approach to education is mostly through apprenticeship. They learn from other CPM’s and spend several years with their preceptors going through a process that starts with observation, and works its way up until they are primarily managing pregnancies and birth with the supervision of their preceptor. Some CPM’s go to a more organized school to learn, and some of them complete apprenticeships where they just learn from their preceptor.”

“All CPM’s take a very rigorous exam at the end of their training to make sure they know everything that they need to know. Then it is up to individual states to license them and to make the rules about what they can do in their individual state. Not every state allows CPM’s to practice legally. There are about 10 states where they’re still not recognized legally and the laws do vary from state to state as far as what they are allowed to do practice wise.”

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

“CNM’s are Certified Nurse Midwives. They are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. A CNM has a background in nursing. They start with nursing school, and in order to be eligible to take the exam to become a CNM, they have to have a Master’s degree in Midwifery. They are legally licensed in all 50 States, but there is variation state by state in their level of practice. About half the states in the country allow CNM’s to practice independently with no supervision from a physician.  But in some states, they are required to either work with physicians collaboratively, work under physicians, or to have physicians for some level of consultation.”

State Laws Vary

“Be sure to check with your state laws. Usually, Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM’s) do have prescriptive authority and can prescribe medications. CPM’s are able to prescribe medication in some states, but not in others. They may have very limited medications that they’re allowed to prescribe if they do have prescriptive authority.”

Insurance Coverage

“If you’re interested in having your insurance pay for your pregnancy care and birth, you want to check with them also and find out if they cover the different types of midwives. Some insurance covers CNM’s, but not CPM’s. Or, they may cover at a different level for the different types of midwives. CPM’s and CNM’s have different methods of training and different laws for their practice in each individual state. So if you’re considering a CPM versus a CNM, it is important to look at the laws in your state and find out what each of them is allowed to do for you in your state. And, also look into the individual midwife that you’re considering and find out what their training is, what their background is, and get some references about the kind of care that they offer and what they’re able to do for you.”

Additional Resources