Cynthia Lenehan, MA, CPM, LM, LPC
Home Birth & Counseling Services   
Serving the greater Charleston, SC area

about midwifery & home birth

What is a midwife?

A midwife is a trained professional who promotes normalcy in pregnancy and birth.  A midwife serves low-risk women who seek a birth experience that honors their body’s natural rhythms and abilities.  A midwife assists a woman with the entire process of the childbearing year, including prenatal care, postpartum care, newborn care and breastfeeding, while providing educational and emotional support.  Midwife means "with woman."

What is a Licensed Midwife (LM)?
A Licensed Midwife is direct-entry (non-nurse) midwife who is a specialist in birth outside of the hospital, particularly at home.  The legal requirements for direct-entry midwifery vary state to state, but licensing in South Carolina requires extensive study and clinical experience.  The regulations governing South Carolina Licensed Midwives can be found at  More information about South Carolina Licensed Midwives can be found at
SC Licensed Midwives 

What is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)?
Certified Professional Midwives are skilled professionals who provide Midwives Model of Care. The CPM is an internationally recognized credential demonstrating the mastery of both didactic information and clinic experience components. 

What is a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)?

Certified Nurse-Midwives hold a Master’s degree in nursing and have been certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). A CNM’s midwifery training is primarily hospital-based. In South Carolina, CNMs practice in clinics, birth centers and hospitals. If for health or emotional reasons you do not feel comfortable giving birth at home, using a CNM in a hospital or birth center is a good alternative.  Information about The Charleston Birth Place, a free-standing birth center in North Charelston may be found at


What is a doula? How is a Doula different from a midwife? Do I need a doula at my home birth?

A doula assists women by providing physical and emotional support during labor (Labor Doula) or as a mother's helper (Postpartum Doula).  A doula is not trained to provide health care for the mother or baby.  There are several organizations that offer workshops and certification for doulas.  Having a doula at a hospital birth is an excellent way to ensure that the laboring mother receives the consistent, caring contact that she needs.  Doulas, while welcome, are not necessary at home births because the midwife and her assistant are able to provide undivided attention to the mother.


Is home birth safe?

While nothing in life is without some risk, for a healthy mother and baby giving birth at home with a midwife is safe.  In fact, studies show out-of-hospital birth to be as safe, or safer, than hospital birth for healthy women.  Of course, if you or your baby have health problems or are at high-risk for complications you would want to seek medical care, but women were giving birth safely with midwives at home before hospitals and doctors, and they continue to do so today.

What kinds of women choose midwives and home birth?

I have worked with women of many diverse ethnic, religious, educational and economic backgrounds.  All share a common belief in their body’s ability to give birth, are emotionally stable and have an attitude of self-responsibility.  Also, home birth clients willingly choose behaviors that insure good health such as proper nutrition, adequate rest and exercise, controlling stress levels, and abstention from alcohol, tobacco products, non-prescribed medications and other toxic substances.  Additionally, my clients meet the SCDHEC standards for being considered low risk.

Do I need a certain kind of house or equipment for a home birth?

No, anywhere that you feel safe and comfortable (that is reasonably clean) will work.  I have assisted clients who have birthed in large homes and small apartments, even on sailboats and one room mountain cabins!  I will provide you with a list of common household supplies to have on hand as well as a “birth kit” to order.  Otherwise, I bring the necessary medical equipment and supplies with me: comfort and support items such as herbs, homeopathic remedies, massage oils, and aromatherapy oils; a fetoscope and doppler to listen to baby's heart rate during labor; sterile instruments for clamping and cutting baby's umbilical cord and gloves; as well as emergency equipment and medicine such as oxygen and resuscitation equipment, and Pitocin for postpartum hemorrhage. I do require that your home be within 40 minutes of MUSC Hosptital.

Resources About Midwifery


SC Licensed Midwives 


Citizens for Midwifery

Midwives Alliance of North America


American College of Nurse Midwives: Consumer Health Information


Health Licensing Licensed Midwives SC DHEC Health Regulation



Resources For Pregnancy & Birth


The Midwife Archives - A collection of information about all aspects of pregnancy, birth and well-woman care from a midwifery perspective


The Safety of Homebirth - Abstracts from many medical studies both in and out of the United States


The Safety of Home Birth: The Farm Study - From The Farm Midwives 

The Homebirth Choice - by Jill Cohen




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