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Proportion of Midwife-attended Births Reaches All-time High in United States

Data Show Increasing Number of American Women Choose Midwives for their Birth Provider

For Immediate Release:
June 25, 2012

Contact: Melissa Garvey
Office: 240-485-1826
E-mail: [email protected]

Silver Spring, MD - A report of trends from an analysis of two decades of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data released today by the American College of Nurse-Midwives' peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health (JMWH), reveals that in 2009 the proportion of births attended by midwives reached an all-time high of 8.1 percent. The growth of midwifery use remains steady in the United States, with 2009 CDC data showing that 1 in every 8 American women who gave birth vaginally were attended by a midwife.

The JMWH report, "Trends in Midwife-Attended Births in the United States, 1989-2009," shows that this record high is accompanied by an increase in the proportion of births attended by certified nurse-midwives[i] (CNMs) in virtually every state between 1990 and 2009. In fact, the proportion of vaginal births attended by CNMs and certified midwives[ii] (CMs) reached an all-time high of 11.4 percent in 2009.[iii] Overall, in the past decade, 39 states have experienced an increase in the proportion of CNM-attended births.

"The growing number of midwife-attended vaginal births in the United States may be a reflection of the increasing recognition of midwives' expertise in the management of labor in vaginal births. As many mothers express their concern with the high cesarean rate in the United States, it is likely the demand for midwives will continue to rise," said the JMWH report's author, Eugene Declercq, PhD, Assistant Dean for DrPH Education at the Boston University School of Public Health. "While still far below the rates of midwife-attended births in other industrialized countries, this is nonetheless good news for those mothers who want the choice of a midwife as their prenatal care provider and birth attendant."

In addition to the overall increase in midwife-attended births in the United States, data also shows a shift in the race/ethnicity of women who give birth with CNMs. While in 1990 a disproportionately high number of non-Caucasian mothers gave birth with CNMs, in 2009 the race/ethnicity distribution of women who gave birth with CNMs mirrors that of the entire US population showing a shift in the American recognition of midwifery care.

"With low cesarean rates, higher incidence of full-term birth, and the individualized model of care the evidence has shown midwives provide, it's not surprising to see that more American women are seeking out midwifery care," said Holly Powell Kennedy, president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. "We are excited to see data showing us that the American public has started to embrace the value and high-quality care that midwives provide." 


For more information, please contact Melissa Garvey, ACNM Communications Manager at (240) 485-1826 or via e-mail at [email protected].

About the American College of Nurse-Midwives

The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) is the professional association that represents certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) in the United States. ACNM promotes excellence in midwifery education, clinical practice, and research. With roots dating to 1929, our members are primary care providers for women throughout the lifespan, with a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecologic and reproductive health. ACNM provides research, administers and promotes continuing education programs, establishes midwifery education and clinical practice standards, and creates liaisons with state and federal agencies and members of Congress to increase the visibility and recognition of midwifery care.

[i] Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education and have passed a national certification examination.

[ii] Certified midwives (CMs) are individuals who have or receive a background in a field other than nursing and graduate from a midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. CMs take the same national certification examination as CNMs.

[iii] Certified midwives (CMs) are included with certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) in birth certificate data.


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