Formulating Evidence-Based Guidelines for Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Midwives Attending Home Births




Implementing national home birth guidelines for certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs) in the United States may facilitate a common approach to safe home birth practices. Guidelines are evidence-based care recommendations for specified clinical situations that can be modified by individual providers to meet specific client needs.


Following a review of home birth guidelines from multiple countries, a set of home birth practices guidelines for US CNMs/CMs was drafted. Fifteen American Midwifery Certification Board, Inc. (AMCB)-certified home birth midwives who participate in the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) home birth electronic mailing list considered the use of such a document in their practices and reviewed and commented on the guidelines.


The proposed guidelines addressed client screening, informed consent, antepartum care, routine intrapartum care, obstetric complications and hospital transports, postpartum care, neonatal care, gynecologic care, primary care, peer reviews, recordkeeping, and physician collaboration. The reviewers had varying assessments as to whether the guidelines reflected international standards and current best evidence. The primary concern expressed was that an adoption of national guidelines could compromise provider autonomy.


Incorporation of evidence-based guidelines is an ACNM standard and was recommended by the Home Birth Consensus Summit. Clinical practice guidelines are informed by current evidence and supported by experts in a given discipline. Implementation of guidelines ensures optimal patient care and is becoming increasingly central to reimbursement and to medicolegal support. A set of practice guidelines based on current best evidence and internationally accepted standards was developed and reviewed by an interested group of US CNMs/CMs. Further discussion with home birth midwives and other stakeholders about the development and implementation of home birth guidelines is needed, especially in light of this project's finding of less support for national home birth guidelines among the reviewers subsequent to versus prior to their review of the draft guidelines.