Becoming a Midwife with a Young Family

From Kimbrah: I was going through my Google Reader today (only 776 entries in there!) and I came across your post entitled "Becoming a Midwife." It's kind of funny that I read it today because I have been thinking and praying all day about whether to pursue my dreams or wait. I really do have a desire to become a certified homeopath and also to become certified as a doula, with the intention of eventually becoming a permanent assistant midwife.

I have four small boys right now ages 5, 3, 1, and 5 weeks. I feel silly for even wanting to pursue anything when I have such small children. I am very committed to being a stay-at-home mom (or work-at-home mom) and homeschooling my boys, but I still want to give back to other women and their children. I was able to "play" doula for my brother and his wife for their hospital birth, and I was born for it! She had the birth experience she really wanted and felt empowered, which helped me feel empowered, too.

I am writing because I wanted some encouragement or direction, or maybe I just felt led to because it seemed too much of a coincidence to read the words you wrote on the exact day that I have been seeking guidance about my future. I appreciate your time and look forward to your reply, when you have time.

Answer: This is a great question because it is often the energy and enthusiasm we get from our births that puts that fire in our belly. Your children do come first and are your most important calling right now. That doesn't mean you can't pursue your studies slowly as family commitments allow. For example, I think having your own children and breastfeeding them is the ideal preparation for becoming a midwife. (You can still be a good midwife if you have not had your own children. My mentor, Marion Toepke McLean, who has written an article for Midwifery Today magazine since I started it 22 years ago, doesn't have her own children and is the best midwife imaginable.)

I did find a passion to be a midwife that was unrelenting after I had my first homebirth following a first bad birth in the hospital. I could barely think of anything else, so I know what you are feeling. This was the 70s, though, and we were helping moms who were going to have homebirths no matter what. There were few legal homebirth midwives at this time.

Marion taught us about hemorrhage, shoulder dystocia, and other birth challenges; we invariably experienced that issue with a mom within a very short time. I know there is a divine hand in midwifery. I don't know about self-study for becoming a homeopath, but I imagine there are online courses. You can use this time to study. I would suggest you form a study group in your area. Use this vast resource that is the Internet. You can glean so much information.

At Midwifery Today we maintain a huge Web site with hundreds of articles from past issues, and you can sign up and receive our free twice-monthly newsletter. We also have a section on becoming a midwife.

Other things you can do now:
  • Attend a series of La Leche League meetings if you haven't already.
  • Make yourself available to your friends for information as you learn it and also to be with them as a doula. You might not attend a lot of births, but you will get a lot out of those you do attend.
  • Join local groups that promote midwifery, childbirth education or doula activities.
  • Go to a conference when the children are a little older, if you get the opportunity. It can help you fine-tune the direction you want to go. For example, at Midwifery Today conferences we concentrate on Beginning Midwifery by offering a full-day class in it. We offer two to three great conferences each year.
  • If you get the opportunity, volunteer at a midwife or doula practice. You might consider it when the children a little older, if you have good support at home. I was really blessed because when I went to a birth my mom would come and take over so the household kept running smoothly.

Be sure to use this time when your passion is high to do as much self study as is practical considering your busy life. Midwifery Today has a book you may be interested in called "Paths to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education." It may help you get focus. God bless you in your efforts.

Jan Tritten
Midwifery Today

Paths to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education

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