Midwives are trained professionals with skills and expertise in providing care for mothers and infants. They help women to maintain healthy pregnancies and have optimal births and recoveries after birth. Their care can include preconception, pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum guidance and treatment. Midwives develop trusting, working relationships with women and their families in order to provide individualized care suited to mothers' individual needs. They may work independently or as part of a healthcare team.
Daily midwife tasks might include:
Providing primary health and gynecological care
Prescribing medications including contraceptive and family planning methods
Conducting physicals exams and ordering necessary tests
Providing healthcare education and counseling
Caring for newborns
These are just a few tasks that midwives can perform; job duties will vary depending on the organization and position. Many midwives begin their careers working as registered nurses.
Midwife Job Education Requirements
Midwifery education programs leading to the certified nurse-midwives (CNM) and certified midwives (CM) credentials require graduate education. Most programs require a bachelor's degree for entry, but some will accept registered nurses (RNs) without a bachelor's degree. Some programs leading to the CNM credential require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing prior to entry, but many will accept an individual who has a bachelor's degree but is not an RN, and will provide an accelerated nursing education prior to the midwifery portion of the program. A job as a midwife is considered an advanced practice nurse job, and there are many other opportunities in this field.
Midwife Job Market
There are approximately 15,000 practicing midwives in the United States. Midwives practice in a variety of places, including private homes, clinics, birth centers, hospitals, and health units. Midwives attend only slightly more than 10 percent of births in the United States, but that number is growing, as there is an increased emphasis on preventative care. Offices of physicians and general medical and surgical hospitals are the top two employers of midwives. States with the highest employment level in this occupation are Indiana, New York, California, Florida and Georgia.
Midwife Job Salary Information
As of 2012, the mean hourly wage for a midwife was $44.34 per hour and $92,230 annually. California is the top-paying state for midwives, with an hourly mean wage of $57.91 and an annual mean salary of $120,450. Other states with high-paying salaries for midwives include New Hampshire, North Dakota, Massachusetts and Oregon, each with annual midwife salaries of over $100,000. Many employers offer flexible work schedules, childcare and educational benefits.