Sorry, but you don't want her to "come out thinking that Vit K is not really necessary," or that "routine vaccination is dangerous,"..? It is really sad that nursing school teaches that Vitamin K is 100% necessary and that vaccines are PERFECTLY safe. Both assumptions are false. This is one huge problem with our standard education, and it is a much larger problem of an unthinking population. I am not over here to say no one needs vaccines or Vit K - but please do not ever say they are completely without ill effect because it is not true.
Vitamin K and vaccines are choices just like taking any drug is a choice, and parents should be made understood all the implications of the drugs they and their infants/children are prescribed. THAT is what we were taught in nursing school. Do patients refuse medications? Yes they do. Do we as nurses always agree? No we do not. Are we our patients' advocate? Yes, yes we are. We teach them, and explain and educate again. We explain what we know - but yes, we tell them side effects, and there are side effects and poor outcomes for every single drug available. In the end, it is a parent decision. Not a nurses or a CPMs.
CPMs do not need "medical experience" because they are experts in normal/healthy pregnancy and birth. Once the norm has left the room, the midwife should leave the room too (i.e.: transfer to hospital). CPMs are trained in "standard science-based care." Not sure why you think they are not. OB/GYNs have a different scope than CNMs, and CNMs have a different scope than CPMs, in that, each expertise is different. Some skills and knowledge overlaps, and some does not.
The training of CPMs is widely variable just like the training of a CNM is widely variable, just like the training of a OB/GYN is widely variable. Do all professionals have boxes to check, numbers to meet and hours to accrue? Yes. Do all CPMs have the same boxes to check, numbers to meet? Yes. Do all CNMs? Probably not - there is probably a minimum number of clinical hours for the national examination, but schools all have different requirements here. Same for OB/GYN. BUt all CPMs take the same test and have the same minimum hour requirement and experience requirements. So - maybe their preceptors could be good or bad but that is the same for doctors and CNMs too. Allll that to say.....all medical professionals go through similar processes to learn their expertise, and they all come out with variable education. CPMs are not unique in that. I just graduated nursing school with 29 other people and I am certain that we are not all qualified equally, yet we all went through the same process.
I also want to say that it is legal to practice midwifery as a CPM in 33 states (because you said they are unregulated in "most states"). 5 states currently have legislation for legality happening now, and 6 more are in planning stages. So really - in MOST states, CPMs are regulated. Some states "license" CPMs, some do not, but the CPM cert is usually what is used to "license" the midwife anyway (in my state) without other contingencies. So I am curious as to what the difference is to you - that "CPMs are not licensed"? I do not understand why you say they are unregulated - CPMs are regulated - in the states that regulate them.
To Original Poster:
That being said - I do not disagree that you should be very careful and contact your state board of nursing before you do observe (even if you are ONLY observing). Read your state Nurse Practice Acts. I would also familiarize yourself with all the CPM bylaws for your state. But thats just me and I tend to be very thorough.
I also would not want anyone at the birth to know I am a nurse. I also would be careful not to perform any nursing specific skills (IV placement for example).
I (obviously) am a CPM sympathetic. I am not against them in any way. I fully believe people can and should choose with whom they give birth and how they give birth. I believe we should all have freedom to choose our way of life - including birth to death - and everything in between. Sometimes that means we hire a crappy midwife - but you know what? Sometimes that means we hire a crappy doctor that spent 10 years in school. Crappy birth professionals are not limited to licensed midwives. Far from it. I have been a doula for 17 years, and I have seen so many really unprofessional doctors and even unprofessional CNMs. I have also seen unprofessional CPMs, but I've seen way more poor ob's.
Do your research, cover your tail, be professional, and you'll be good to go. Birth is beautiful and homebirth is an amazing experience.