You can acquire many skills and experiences prior to getting a more formal midwifery education. These experiences will be helpful to you throughout your birth practices, and are useful no matter what route of entry you choose. Of course, the most helpful experience is to have birthed and breastfed a baby. Michel Odent contends that to be a midwife you should have had a natural birth, but any experience that gives you empathy and understanding of birth will help you to help others.
In the early seventies many of us had a good birth or a bad birth that propelled us into our desire to help other women in birth. Those were the days babies attended births with us. A common question aspiring midwives ask is, “Do I have to have had a baby?” Some of the best midwives I know have never had a baby. It isn’t a requirement but it does teach you a lot. My mentor Marion Toepke McLean has not had children and she is the best midwife I have ever met. Don’t give up, go on!
If you can find other aspiring midwives in your community, form a study group. You can take turns researching subjects and giving reports. Ask different practitioners in your community to speak to you. Use your favorite textbooks for self-study. Midwifery Today magazine is an excellent source of articles, birth stories, and other information about important issues. Some student midwives have bought all of our back issues and worked their way through them as an educational method. There are hundreds articles as well as years of Midwifery Today E-News back issues on our website that you may read for free. You can also receive E-news for free by registering for it on our website: https://www.midwiferytoday.com/newsletters/.
Go to a series of La Leche League meetings. Listening to mothers talk will give you a good foundation in breastfeeding, which is an important part of birth and not separate from it! Volunteer at one of the organizations that deal with birth or prenatal care, or with one of the midwives in your area. Be an activist and let your community know about childbirth in your area. You can create a library display about the advantages of midwifery. Become a childbirth educator or doula. You will often be invited to births. Wear your birth art t-shirt because it initiates conversations about birth. There are many things you can do now to help you on your path to midwifery—so many, in fact, that I will continue this subject in a later article.
— love, Jan
Jan Tritten, Mother of Midwifery Today