Midwives: a Continuum of Care

For as long as women have been having babies, midwives have been an integral part of the birth experience. And while their role has evolved since those early days, midwives remain a critical component of women’s health care—not only during pregnancy and delivery, but for routine gynecological care.

CHI Franciscan Health has been offering midwifery services since 1980 and has recently expanded its program to cover nearly every CHI Franciscan service area, with Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) to address the region’s growing need for women’s health care providers.

What is a certified nurse midwife?

The designation of CNM signifies an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) who is trained in both the nursing and midwifery care model and certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). A license to practice as a CNM is given after successfully completing the program and passing an AMCB certification exam. This training equips midwives with the necessary tools to provide the full spectrum of care to women of all ages.


If you’re like most moms, you have a vision of how your ideal birth will go and may have already drafted a birth plan. Whether you choose an OB/GYN or CNM as part of that plan, this is a highly personal decision based on your individual needs and desires. If you’re considering a CNM, know that:

  • A CNM can see you for prenatal appointments, answer any questions or address any concerns you may have
  • Research has shown that uncomplicated births attended by CNMs are just as safe as those attended by OB/GYNs, and many moms appreciate the time and attention midwives give them during labor
  • Just as with a doctor, women choosing to deliver using a CNM are able to select options such as epidurals for effective pain management
  • If you are under the care of a CHI Franciscan CNM but develop high-risk factors during your pregnancy or delivery, your CNM will work to ensure a smooth transition to an OB/GYN or maternal fetal medicine specialist (perinatologist)
  • We offer vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) services at our Family Birth Centers. Given the increased risk for potential complications, VBAC services are not currently available at the Midwifery Birth Center at St. Joseph.
  • Currently, CHI Franciscan CNMs deliver approximately 40 percent of St. Joseph Medical Center’s babies

A center for natural childbirth

The Midwifery Birth Center at St. Joseph provides a supportive, home-like environment for expectant mothers looking for an unmedicated, natural childbirth experience. With nurses and caregivers who are trained in holistic approaches, our team will help to support your wish for a natural childbirth.

If you are experiencing a normal, low-risk pregnancy and plan to have an unmedicated natural childbirth, consider the Midwifery Birth Center as a place to welcome your family’s new addition.

Routine visits

The services covered by CNMs don’t begin and end with pregnancy and childbirth. Our CNMs also:

  • Offer gynecological and primary care, including performing routine physicals along with pelvic and breast exams
  • Provide in-depth health care education and counseling
  • Order lab tests and diagnostic screenings such as mammograms
  • Prescribe medication for family planning and contraceptive purposes

Find a midwife who’s right for you

Find a certified nurse midwife near you. For a referral by phone, please call 1-888-825-3227 24 hours a day. We accept most insurance plans.