How to Become a Midwife

A compassionate, caring career can be had helping with childbirth. Learn how to become a midwife, including qualities needed for the job, schools for midwifery and states that legally accept midwives.


| July/August 1985



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Today's midwives are teaching childbirth classes, giving prenatal and postpartum care, and, best of all, delivering more and more babies in homes and hospitals.


ADAPTED FROM PHOTO BY LYN JONES

There's a growing need for compassionate, skilled women to attend natural childbirths, this guide tells you how to become a midwife. 

Although the modern world is becoming increasingly oriented toward technology, one of the world's oldest—and most down-to-earth—professions is currently making a comeback . . . midwifery. Today's midwives are teaching childbirth classes, giving prenatal and postpartum care, and, best of all, delivering more and more babies in homes and hospitals.

If you've ever considered becoming a midwife, you may have wondered just where to begin—since it can be difficult to find information on the subject! In the same vein, many pregnant women wish to be attended by a midwife but cannot find one. In order to address both of those problems, this article will look at how to become a midwife: what it takes to become a midwife . . . what possibilities for work exist . . . and how you may be able to locate such a birth attendant.

Most women who become midwives feel they're answering a calling: They have a strong belief in the basic normalcy of childbirth and a feeling that there is a certain rightness in a woman attending another woman in labor. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We should point out, however, that there are practicing male midwives.) Furthermore, because this occupation is still struggling for acceptance in our country (see "But Can You Become a Midwife?" at the end of this article), most midwives also have a streak of stubbornness in their characters.

Take the above qualities, add caring, empathy, scholastic ability, and being able to think clearly at 2 A.M., and you have a description of a "typical" midwife. And she certainly isn't in it for the money! Probably the most that a certified nurse-midwife could earn would be around $25,000 to $35,000 . . . while a lay midwife making $12,000 a year would be doing well indeed.

After consumer awareness about childbirth issues increased in the 1970s, two kinds of midwives emerged in America: lay midwives, who are mostly self-taught and involved in home births; and certified nurse-midwives (C.N.M.'s), who have been through credentialed nursing and birthing programs and usually work in hospitals or birth centers.





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