Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it."
-- W.H. Murray
Opportunities for the Study of Midwifery:
How an Aspiring Midwife Can Obtain Knowledge and Skills:
Ä Seek out local midwifery study groups or join your state midwifery organization. To find your state midwifery organization, contact Midwives Alliance of North America at If you live in California, join California Association of Midwives, you will recieve our newsletter which will keep you abreast of midwifery-related issues and events throughout the state, including our annual conference held each October. To get the name of your California regional representative, in order to find out what's happening and how you can get involved write to .
Ä Attend a comprehensive midwifery training program with a clinical and academic program. Once you graduate, if you wish to become licensed, you can take the licensing exam (if available in your state), or go through the national certification process to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). Midwifery licenses obtained in the states of Florida or Washington are recognized in California. Click here to find out about the legal status of midwifery in your state.
Ä If there are no midwifery programs in your area and you cannot relocate to attend school, then enroll in human science classes at your community college. Recommended are: Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Human Biology, Human Nutrition, Human Sexuality, Lifespan Developmental Psychology, Genetics, Embryology, etc.
Ä Some aspiring midwives who cannot relocate to attend midwifery school learn their academics through self-directed study and then attend a short term intensive birth center or hospital training program to obtain clinical experience. There are such programs in Texas, Jamaica, Russia, Guatemala. Go to: socalbirth.org/study.htm
Ä State licensing and national certification programs require skills in neonatal resucitation, venipuncture (phlebotomy), suturing, and IV administration. You can take these courses through continuing education programs for nurses at your local hospital or vocational training center or by attending midwifery conferences. MANA and ACNM have national conferences yearly. Midwifery Today hosts several conferences throughout the year. Many state midwifery associations hold conferences. California Association of Midwives holds an annual conference each October.
Ä Train as a "doula" and offer hospital labor support or postpartum care. By providing professional labor support, or postpartum doula care for mothers and babies, you'll have an opportunity to learn through observation and may even get a hands-on experience once and a while. You may even get invited to homebirths where you can meet local midwives. (Who may be looking for a new asssistant!). The Certified Birth Assistant training offered through The Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators teaches basic midwifery-assisting skills such as sterile technique, auscilating fetal hearttones and palpation. The Farm Midwifery Center in Summertown, TN and Hands-On-midwifery Workshops in French Camp, California also offer skills in the basics of midwifery. (go to: socalbirth.org/pathways/study.htm
Ä Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (programs available through many community colleges or vocational schools) and work as a clinical assistant in a prenatal, family planning clinic, birth center or doctor's office, or do home health care nursing.
Ä Start a childbirth/midwifery study group. Workshops can be taught by nurses and midwives on skills such as pap smears, IV Infusion and suturing, as well as the spiritual and ethical aspects of midwifery. Along with other midwifery enthusiasists, you can do some community education or form a doula network.
Ä Train as a Prenatal or Infant Massage Therapist, Hypnobirthing Instructor or Prenatal Yoga or Exercise Instructor. This is a good way to meet clients who will invite you to be their labor companion.
Ä Become a Registered Nurse, then you can continue your education to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife.
Ä Become a Certified Midwife, a good option if you are not already a nurse and have a Bachelor's degree in health-related field such as Physical Therapy, and you live in New York State.
Before licensure was available in the State of California, aspiring midwives had only two options: 1) to become a nurse and then train as a Nurse-Midwife, or 2) work "underground" as a lay midwife (learning through self-directed study and apprenticeship). Now we have more options than ever before. 1) You can opt not to become licensed, 2) you can certify nationally (CPM) 3) you can become a Certified Nurse-Midwife or Certified Midwife (if you live in New York state) 4) or the newest option, you can become a Registered Nurse, obtain an apprenticeship and then become a Licensed Midwife (RN/LM).
Getting Started: Become A Certified Childbirth Assistant or Certified Childbirth Educator
A good starting point in your career as a midwife is to train as a Childbirth Assistant or Postpartum Care Provider. The Professional Labor Companion, Birth Assistant, Birth Partner, or "Doula" (from the Greek word meaning "with woman") provides education to childbearing families about labor and birth options, emotional support and physical comfort during labor, and support in the early postpartum period. Some Doulas provide support to postpartum families. Training as a Childbirth Assistant will give you hands-on experience with women in labor. You will become aware of the rhythms and variations of birth, work with a variety of families, practitioners and birth places. Also, you will learn how to manage your personal life while being "on call" for births.
Training as a Childbirth Educator or Hypnobirthing Instructor is also a good foundation for becoming a midwife. Childbirth Educators assist pregnant women and their partners in making informed decsions about their care and developing the confidence they need for birthing. Through training as a childbirth educator, you will learn basic information about pregnancy and childbirth, become informed about risks and benefits of obstetrical interventions, relay this important information to your students and gain satisfaction in assisting couples in making congruent choices about their baby's birth. You will also develop the ability to educate the public about midwifery. Also, your students may invite you to attend their births as a labor companion. Hypnobirthing is very popular with pregnant couples these days!
There are several organizations which offer training and certification for Childbirth Educators and Doulas/Birth Assistants.
Birthing From Within
Association of Childbirth Educators and Labor Assistants (ALACE)
International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)
The Bradley Method
Magical Begginings Childbirth Education Program
Doulas of North America (DONA)
Ä Study the following books and periodicals:
Journal of Nurse-Midwifery
Association of Radical Midwives
Friends of Homebirth
The Aspiring Midwives' Recommended Reading List:
Maternity and Women's Health Care
Human Labor and Birth
A Textbook for Midwives
A Guide to Physical Examination
Becoming A Midwife
Paths to Midwifery: Getting an Education
Heart and Hands
Understanding Diagnostic Tests in the Childbearing Year
Helping Hands: The Apprentice's Workbook
Where to Buy Childbirth and Midwifery books. Click Here.
Childbirth Education, Labor Support & Midwifery Associations
The Farm Midwifery Workshops
Magazine, midwifery assistant workshops & conference
Citizens for Midwifery
This is a national organization of professionals and citizens promoting The Midwifery Model of Care. They have great resources available at their website, including summaries of academic papers, position statements by influential organizations and fact sheets that can be printed out which promote the midwifery model of care; a great resource for persons writing research papers on midwifery or midwifery activists doing community education.
Other Organizations of Interest:
Global Maternal Child Health Association/Waterbirth International (waterbirth information & tub rentals)
Faith Gibson's Website - California College of Midwives
National Association of Postpartum Care Services (NAPCS)
National Association of Parents and Professionals for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (NAPSAC)
Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA)
American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM)
California Midwives Associations:
California Association of Midwives (CAM)
Midwifery Childbirth Awareness Project of Ca. Assn. Midwives (MCAP)
California Nurse Midwives Association (CNMA)