What is a CPM?

A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is a knowledgeable, skilled and professional independent midwifery practitioner who has met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and is qualified to provide the Midwives Model of Care. The CPM is the only midwifery credential that requires knowledge about and experience in out-of-hospital settings.

Most CPMs own or work in private home or birth center based practices. Providing continuous care for women throughout their childbearing cycle, CPMs generally carry a relatively low client load which allows for more personalized and comprehensive care than typical obstetrical practices. The guiding principles of the practice of CPMs are to work with their clients to promote a healthy pregnancy and provide education to help them make informed decisions about their own care. 

In partnership with their clients CPMs carefully monitor the progress of the pregnancy, labor, birth, newborn, and postpartum period. They recommend appropriate management if complications arise, collaborating with other healthcare providers when necessary. The key elements of this education, monitoring, and decision making process are based on evidence-based practice which includes thoughtful integration of the best available evidence, coupled with clinical expertise, and the client’s values and needs.


The CPM credential was developed in the late 1980’s and was first issued in 1994 by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) to midwives with specialized training and expertise in providing safe, skilled maternity care in community birth settings. 

“The main purpose of a certification program is to establish entry-level knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to practice competently. A Certified Professional Midwife’s (CPM) competency is established through training, education and supervised clinical experience, followed by successful completion of a written examination. The goal is to increase public safety by setting standards for midwives who practice “The Midwives Model of Care” predominately in out-of-hospital settings.”

The Midwives Model of Care is based on the amazing fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.

The Midwives Model of Care includes:

  • monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother/birthing parent throughout the childbearing cycle
  • providing the mother/birthing parent with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • minimizing technological interventions and
  • identifying and referring women/birthing people who require obstetrical attention.

Learn more about the Midwifery Model of Care

A CPM is not a nurse and they do not practice nursing or medicine while a CNM is a nurse with an additional midwifery certificate. 

Check out this useful Comparison Chart to learn about the differences between CNMs, CMs, and CPMs in America. 

While 38 states recognize the CPM credential and skill in caring for low-risk pregnant women in pregnancy and birth, many states continue to lag behind. To learn more visit pushformidwives.org.

In states where CPMs are at risk of criminal prosecution for “practicing medicine or nursing without a license,” the practice of midwifery is driven underground and creates barriers to access for women seeking maternity care.


Community-Based, Community-Oriented Maternity Care

This article gives an overview of the Traditional Childbearing Group. Co-founded by Shafia Monroe in the 70’s and based in the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood of Massachusetts, the TCBG is a guiding star to Holistic Birth Collective and many contemporary Midwifery approaches today.