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Pathways into Midwifery

" Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignornace of which kills countless ideas and and splendid plans: that the moment one definately commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would have never otherwise occured. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no [wo]man could have dreamed would come [her] way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it."

-- W.H. Murray
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Opportunities for the Study of Midwifery:

How an Aspiring Midwife Can Obtain Knowledge and Skills:

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 .

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.

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.

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:

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

Become a Registered Nurse, then you can continue your education to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife.

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)
PO Box 382724
Cambridge, MA 02238-2724

International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)
PO Box 20048
Minneapolis, MN 55420-0048

The Bradley Method
American Academy of Husband - Coached Childbirth (AAHCI)
PO Box 5224
Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

1101 Connecticut Ave.
Washington, DC 20036

Magical Begginings Childbirth Education Program
The Chopra Center for Well-Being
7630 Fay Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037

42 Tallowood Dr.
Medford, NJ 08055

Doulas of North America (DONA)
1100 23rd Ave. E
Seattle, WA 98112

Study the following books and periodicals:

Midwifery Today
PO Box 2672
Eugene, OR 97402
networking, magazine & conferences, Also publish book "Paths to Midwifery" - a great resource for the aspiring midwife.

Mothering Magazine
PO Box 1690
Santa Fe, NM 8750

Journal of Nurse-Midwifery
Elsevier North Holland
Vanderbilt Ave.
New York, NY 10017

"Special Delivery"
The Newsletter of Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE)
PO Box 382724
Cambridge, MA 02238-2724

Association of Radical Midwives
Greetby Hall, Ormskirk
Lancashire, England l39 2DT
overview of midwifery in Great Britain.

Friends of Homebirth
103 N. Pearl St.
Big Sandy, TX 75755
newsletter, membership, local chapters

The Aspiring Midwives' Recommended Reading List:

by Helen Varney

Maternity and Women's Health Care
by Lowdermilk, Perry and Bobak

Human Labor and Birth
by Oxorne & Foote

A Textbook for Midwives
by Margaret Myles

A Guide to Physical Examination
by Barbara Bates

Becoming A Midwife
by Caroline Steiger

Paths to Midwifery: Getting an Education
Published by Midwifery Today Magazine

Holistic Midwifery
by Ann Frye

Heart and Hands
by Elizabeth Davis

Understanding Diagnostic Tests in the Childbearing Year
by Ann Frye

Spiritual Midwifery
by Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives

Helping Hands: The Apprentice's Workbook
by Carla Hartley
available through Ancient Art Midwifery Institute

Where to Buy Childbirth and Midwifery books. Click Here.

Childbirth Education, Labor Support & Midwifery Associations

The Farm Midwifery Workshops
Contact: Pamela Hunt
42 The Farm
Summertown, TN 38483
Web: Midwifery

Magazine, midwifery assistant workshops & conference

Citizens for Midwifery
PO Box 82227
Athens, GA 30608-2227
National Director, Susan Hodges:

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)
PO Box 1400
Wilsonville, OR 97070

Faith Gibson's Website - California College of Midwives
This is a great place to go if you are wanting the most current update on the legislative challenges facing California's midwives, as well as a history of midwifery in California. This informative site was put together by Faith Gibson, LM, the medical board laison for CAM.

National Association of Postpartum Care Services (NAPCS)
8910 299th Pl. SW
Edmonds, WA 98026
Training to become a Postpartum Doula, Referrals to Postaprtum Doulas.

National Association of Parents and Professionals for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (NAPSAC)
Rte. 1, Box 646
Marble Hill, MO 63734
publications on midwifery and homebirth

Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA)
PO Box 175
Newton, KS 67114
E-mail: Go here to find your state midwifery association or a midwife in your community.

American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM)
1522 K St., ste. 1000
Washington, DC 20005

California Midwives Associations:

California Association of Midwives (CAM)
PO Box 460606
San Francisco, CA 94146-0606

Midwifery Childbirth Awareness Project of Ca. Assn. Midwives (MCAP)
Nina Matysiak, Director
Phone: 707-463-2135
The non-profit educational arm of C.A.M. offers community midwifery education seminars and networking opportunites for midwives and other wholsitic health care providers. Contact director to find out how promote the midwifery model of care in your community.

California Nurse Midwives Association (CNMA)
c/o Vicki Wolfrum, CNMA/CAM liason
349 S. Granados Ave.
Solana Beach, CA 92075

Information compiled by: