Passionate Midwifery Education – Installment 1

This section of our website is to help you with your education to become a midwife. While doulas and educators will also find it helpful, it is aimed mostly at aspiring and student midwives. Of course, since we as midwives are always learning, you may find some suggestions for furthering your education even if you have been a midwife for decades. This column is designed to get you started with your education as well as to introduce and discuss the many issues we grapple with as midwives. I plan to bring you hints for self-study as well as ideas about formal schooling.

When I became a midwife over 40 years ago, there were very few choices for getting a midwifery education in the United States. We made up our education process as we went along. We were doing births in our small homebirth practice, “The Birth Coop,” with women who were determined to have their babies at home—with or without a midwife. Within the cooperative were a few “midwives” who had attended 20–35 homebirths, and the rest of us with passion and enthusiasm. Marion Toepke McLean offered us classes in midwifery skills. I organized various people from the community to teach us the weeks Marion was off. We had an obstetrician, a pediatrician, nutritionists, and other specialists teaching various subjects. It was a unique way to get an education—workable for the time. It is still possible to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) completely through apprenticeship. However, there are so many varied education routes; I hope you will consider them all.

It is important to get the kind of education that will let you practice as you want. Midwifery Today’s book, Paths to Becoming a Midwife, gives a full discussion of routes of entry. The chapters “Getting Started,” “Politics and Philosophies,” “Direct Entry Midwifery” and “Certified Nurse-Midwifery” are excellent resources for aspiring midwives. Elizabeth Davis’s book, Heart and Hands, became our “midwifery bible,” both for our own education and to give to pregnant moms. It was recently updated. I would suggest you get this book for its wide coverage of the many issues within midwifery, as well as its discussion of sound clinical practice.

This column will also be of help to student nurse-midwives and midwives from around the world, especially when they feel bogged down in the medicalization of birth. This column is designed to help us all know more natural ways to handle pregnancy and birth care. It will lead you to other places of inquiry: books, websites, and articles on the Midwifery Today site and others. Since we are all lifelong students, I hope it will be of service to everyone. If you are aware of a great website, book, article, or tip for education or midwifery practice, please let me know. Midwifery education is so important because it is where we learn to really care for and love the women we serve. It is vital that we experience good models for caregiving early on so that we know how to treat motherbaby in our own care later on.

— love, Jan
Jan Tritten, Mother of Midwifery Today