A direct-entry midwife is a midwife who has entered the profession of midwifery without any type of formal training. A direct-entry midwife acquires her knowledge and experience by serving as an apprentice to a practicing midwife. In most cases, they do not work in hospitals, but rather assist midwives during homebirths or in birthing centers.
Direct-entry midwifes are not as popular as certified nurse midwives—less than one percent of all births in the US are attended by a direct-entry midwife. This could be due to the fact they do not have any formal nursing training or education. However, there are ways for them to become certified.
Types of Direct-Entry Midwives
There are four types of direct-entry midwives. Here’s a brief description of each:
Certified Professional Midwives: These midwives are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives and have completed educational requirements under the supervision of a licensed midwife. They must also pass licensing exams and complete continuing education classes.
Certified Midwives: These midwives have passed the exact same certification exams as certified nurse midwives, but lack the nursing background. As of 2008, only New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offer this exam.
Licensed Midwives: These midwives are licensed by the states in which they work.
Lay Midwives: These midwives are not certified in any way.
Is a Direct-Entry Midwife Right For You?
The truth of the matter is, as long as it’s legal in your state, you can have a direct-entry midwife care for you while you are pregnant. You may want to consider your pregnancy status first, however. For example, if you suffer from a chronic illness or another condition that would make yours a high-risk pregnancy, you may want to have a midwife who is trained in nursing and prenatal care. Most women and families who choose a direct-entry midwife do so because they want a home birth.
How do I Find a Direct Entry Midwife?
Because direct entry midwives are not certified the same way other medical professionals are, you may have the best luck finding the right one for you by asking your friends and family for a referral. Women’s health care clinics may also have referrals or contacts for you. NARM, the North American Registry of Midwives, may also be able to give you advice.