I Want to be a Midwife. Now What?

When? Where? How? So many questions at this point. I am not without options. I just know I am facing a few challenges.

  1. Age – Just turned 38. I know we never stop learning. I feel like my body and brain are up for this. I do feel also some urgency to make this happen sooner rather than later.
  2. Geography – Bolivian midwives are few and far between in the city of Cochabamba. More practice in the villages and rural areas. Not impossible to access to get some hands on training, but difficult. No formal midwifery training is to be found in all of Bolivia (correct me, please, if you have other information). If I were to work alongside a practicing midwife in a village I wonder if they would accept me, culturally speaking.
  3. Education – I have a high school diploma from the U.S. and one year of mission school training. No medical background, whatsoever. Many of the distance schools I have seen online require a basic nursing or paramedic degree as a prerequisite.
  4. Realistic responsibilities – My life is here in Bolivia: as a missionary, as a mother of 5 kids still at home, as a wife supporting a man who works to provide for the family. My seriousness in choosing now to pursue this passion (that has been steadily growing for about 8 years now) dramatically affects each of those realistic responsibilities.
  5. Baby steps – Right now I am gathering information from around the globe about how this can become a reality. I’m researching online. I am talking to people in the field. I am blogging about it in hopes to get some feedback. I made an Amazon wish list of 30+ textbooks and books I want to obtain based on a few different reading lists that distance schools made available online. I’ve begun to crunch the numbers for textbooks, distance training, etc.
  6. Apprenticeship – It seems that most programs are about three years long. Some you can start from zero, like I am doing. All require time and experience spent under an approved practicing midwife, which I totally want to do, but it seems that none are close by, thus demanding I place myself in a physically different location for a significant amount of time.  (I did meet a Bolivian midwife. For a upcoming blog I will be speaking about midwifery in Bolivia.)
  7. Money – This part stumps me, but doesn’t stress me out. Training, textbooks, and travel are all costly and necessary for this to happen. And right when we are trying to figure out about launching our three oldest kids in a few short years. Hmm. Somehow, though, I have a feeling it’s all going to work out.

Do you, my handful of faithful readers, have any questions for me? Are there some challenges I am not seeing that you would like to mention? Do you have any suggestions for overcoming these difficulties?

journey The process which has brought me to this place of action is very precious to me. I don’t want to skip any step because I know all of them are important. Ambition and zeal got burned up in my younger years. Patience and persistence will be my strength as I walk out this journey. I am grateful for those following me, walking this out alongside me, and helping me to birth this desire. Thank you!

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10 thoughts on “I Want to be a Midwife. Now What?

    1. By launching I mean seeing them off onto their next step in their life after high school. It takes some creative logistics to figure out how we can best help them. Those realities will collide and be affected by my decision to begin midwife training in these next few years.

  1. Angie, I just want to encourage you that my midwife with my two girls became a midwife later in life. She had two cesareans of her own, and that is what convinced her there had to be a better way. :) She was a nurse first, for about 10 years, but even the nursing was not in her 20’s I think. I think it was in her 40’s that she finally became a midwife, as she is in her 60’s now and has been practicing about 20 years. (Yes I know the details here are hazy, but the point is that she did it later in life, and after having kids.) She was, and is, AMAZING. So, I just want to give you hope that even though you are older, to follow your dream! (And you know how I feel about dreams, I believe in them. :) )

  2. Hi,
    I just saw your post and congratulations! I think you would make an excellent midwife and your age is not even a consideration, so don’t even give it a thought.

    I have a few things thoughts to share with you that you may already be aware of, first many midwifery schools require you to first become a doula (a doula assists the midwife and offers support to the laboring mother) it is an excellent first step. If you go through DONA International they have a certification program that you can go through with minimal expense. It has some required reading and you must attend one of their workshops as well as participate in some births and do some writing of birth stories (your own and the stories of at least three births that you have attended.) Their doula certification is accepted internationally and is valid virtually world wide. You might check with them to see if they would happen to have any training sessions scheduled for Cochabamba, or at least in Bolivia. It is an intensive 3 day training session and even if they don’t have a workshop near you it would be very easy to time it with a visit to the States. I know that they have them in Omaha, NE and in Kansas City. This can also help you to get your foot in the door with area midwives. Here is their web address: http://www.dona.org/develop/birth_cert.php (note: they also have excellent sources of lactation training)

    Another thought is to be careful about whom you apprentice especially if she herself has had no formal education or training. Experience can teach you a lot, but I have heard horror stories of midwives from the US visiting 2nd and 3rd world countries and observing the local midwives in action. The worst being a midwife that was poking sticks in to try to get the baby to come out…hopefully you wouldn’t run into anything similar to this but it is important that you train under a truly competent midwife (which I am sure is your intention).

    A third thought would be to also get some training in the US by apprenticing with one of the midwifery practices here. Kenda had a midwife while she was in Texas that routinely accepted lay midwife apprentices for 2 to 3 month stints. I am sure that she could put you in touch with them if you were interested.

    My last thought falls under the category of “Realistic Expectations”. While the rewards are enormous and the need is very real, the job is exhausting and tremendously time consuming. You are talking about setting aside at least a few days a week for prenatal and post-natal exams and for charting. In addition you are basically on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days out of the year and as carefully as you plan your schedule this still means that even a “normal” baby can come either 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after their expected due date (a four week window of time). What this means for your family is that everything from birthdays to Christmas to the special trip to the Zoo to Grandma’s arrival from the States can be suddenly interrupted or have to be completely canceled because mom has to run off to help a laboring mom. If that meant just a two hour absence that would be one thing but that is not the case. In fact it could mean a whole day and night away only to return because labor stopped completely and then have the exact same scenario happen again the next day with the same lady. An Amish midwife that I have worked with has had a few times when she was up four days straight with three women going into labor one right after the other. She came home and fell in bed exhausted only to have to get up and do appointments the next day. Believe me, I am not trying to discourage you here, I definitely believe that God is calling women midwives for a reason, but I definitely believe that is better to go in with your eyes wide open then to get in the middle of it all and discover a deal breaker or a reason that would require a delay in the plan or perhaps an adjustment to the plan, as in joining with another midwife in a practice together.

    Nida

    1. Hi Nida. Wow, thank you for the encouragement and for taking the time to pass along all this great advice. I was not aware that becoming a doula is a way to get my foot in the door of the midwife world, so to speak. It makes sense. I will look into that.

      Your final point is the main reason it has taken me so many years to get to the point of acting on this desire. You said, “While the rewards are enormous and the need is very real, the job is exhausting and tremendously time consuming.” You summed up my life for the last 12 years as a missionary. Ha! :-D A life interrupted, yes, I am very aware of that aspect.

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