The education of a homebirth midwife


Homebirth midwives like to trade on the excellent reputation of American nurse midwives and European midwives. It is a deception because it implies that homebirth midwives have the same education and training as other midwives. Nothing could be further than the truth.

The American nurse midwifery degree is a masters level degree. The European, Canadian and Australian midwifery degrees are college level degrees. Homebirth midwifery is a post high school certificate.

Consider the curriculum for certification at Birthingway School of Midwifery. Required courses include:

Botanicals I and I
Plant Medicine I, II and III
Chinese Medicine
Other Modalities: Introduction to a variety of alternative healing modalities including chiropractic, flower essences, and aromatherapy.

So out of 42 required courses, 8 are complete garbage, unscientific, and inane. The remaining 34 required courses include:

Medical terminology – simply learning definitions.
Midwifery culture
3 courses about communicating with patients
Running a midwifery practice

Of 42 required courses, 14 (of which 8 are a total joke) have nothing to do with delivering babies.

Some of the electives are truly bizarre:

Birth Stories in Life and Literature – Read, write, and tell birth stories while learning and exploring effective storytelling techniques.

and my personal favorite:

Introduction to Vibrational Healing – Discussion of vibrational medicine and how it relates to health and health from the center outward to the planet. Course focus is on astrological medicine and gemstone energy within midwifery. Didactic knowledge is integrated with experiential, hands-on learning and observation.

The course requirements for a degree in midwifery are pathetically inadequate and nothing short of appalling. Plant medicine? Homeopathy?? vibrational healing??? It sounds like some sort of joke. Unfortunately, this is what passes for “education” among direct entry midwives.

How about clinical experience? The following is a comparison of the clinical requirements for European midwives and homebirth midwives:

EU midwife————————- homebirth midwife

100 —– pre-natal examinations—– 75

40 —– deliveries—– 25

40 —– caring for high risk patients—– none

100 —– postpartum patients—– 40

40 —– newborns who need special care—– none

So when it comes to clinical requirements, homebirth midwives have 25-60% LESS experience caring for healthy women, and NO experience caring for pregnancy complications and NO experience caring for newborn complications. This illustrates one of the central shortcomings of homebirth midwifery training; there is no experience diagnosing and managing complications.

Anyone can catch a baby; no special training is required. The most critical function of a birth attendant is to diagnose, prevent and manage complications. Homebirth midwives have literally no clinical training in doing so.

American homebirth midwives are grossly undereducated and undertrained. They cannot meet the licensing requirements in ANY first world country. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the neonatal death rate for planned homebirth is almost triple the death rate for comparable risk babies in the hospital.