The American College of Nurse-Midwives and ACOG: Partners in women’s health

Lynne HimmelreichLynne Himmelreich, CNM, MPH, FACNM, clinical associate professor of ob-gyn, University of Iowa

At the last District VIII Advisory Council Meeting, I provided an update on the joint efforts of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and ACOG to improve women’s health care quality and safety and to advance collaboration between ob-gyns and certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs). I am currently a member of the ACNM Board of Directors, representing the Midwest.

Founded in 1955, ACNM leads the US midwifery profession through education, clinical practice, research, and advocacy, representing approximately 12,000 CNMs and CMs. CNMs and CMs are masters-prepared, nationally-certified and recertified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. CNMs are legally recognized in all 50 states, whereas CMs—who take the same certifying exam as CNMs but are not dually prepared in nursing—are working to expand their recognition. In 2011, CNMs and CMs attended 309,514 births, 11.7% of all vaginal births, 7.8% of all US births, and 92.2% of midwife-attended births in the US. While some CNMs and CMs work in birth centers or home birth practices, more than 95% of births attended by CNMs and CMs occur in hospitals. 

ACNM Partner Award

ACOG President Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, accepts the American College of Nurse-Midwives Organizational Partner Award.


In 2013, ACOG was awarded the ACNM Organizational Partner Award in recognition of ACOG’s important role in working closely with ACNM to promote high-quality midwifery practice.

ACNM and ACOG have an ongoing focus to increase collaboration between ob-gyns and CNMs/CMs to improve the quality of women’s health care and maternity care at the national, state, practice, and clinician levels. Examples of partnerships on the national level include:

  • ACNM is active in the ACOG-convened Women’s Health Registry Alliance and the ACOG-CDC maternal mortality initiative
  • ACNM, ACOG, and others hosted a May 2013 congressional briefing on the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act
  • ACNM, ACOG, and Childbirth Connection organized an April 2013 meeting to discuss how to expand access to safe, high-quality vaginal births after cesarean delivery
  • ACNM, ACOG, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, are partners in the US Agency for International Development global development alliance Survive and Thrive

Other opportunities for collaboration between ACNM and ACOG include interdisciplinary education with CNMs/CMs and ob-gyn residents; building and supporting collaborative practices; national, regional, and state quality improvement initiatives; efforts to obtain a federal maternity care shortage designation; and advocacy efforts related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

At the district and section level, ACNM encourages its Board of Directors and state affiliate leaders to become ACOG educational affiliate members and attend ACOG district and section meetings. There is an ACNM affiliate organization in every state and federal territory, the uniformed services, and the Indian Health Service. ACNM seeks better collaboration on shared policy objectives and would like to work with ACOG to improve the quality and safety of maternity care and women’s health based on the shared principles of the ACOG/ACNM collaborative practice statement issued in 2011.

During the District VIII Advisory Council Meeting, I also previewed ACNM’s work to promote normal physiologic labor and birth to consumers and other clinicians. ACNM is preparing to launch a new website called BirthTOOLS—an acronym that stands for Tools for Optimiz­ing Outcomes of Labor Safely. BirthTOOLS is intended to reach clini­cians and health care staff looking to improve access to normal physiologic birth in hospitals. It will incorporate real, pragmatic resources and case studies designed to help staff implement changes in their own facilities.

For more information about ACNM, visit the ACNM website. I am happy to be a resource and can be reached at I look forward to promoting collaboration between ACOG section leaders and their ACNM affiliate counterparts.