At The Black Midwives and Healers Conference


Mothering’s art director, Laura Egley-Taylor, and I are in Long Beach, California attending the 7th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference. The conference is sponsored by the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), the seminal organization founded by Mothering’s Living Treasure, Shafia Monroe, CM. (Below at the opening luncheon)

I spoke to Martha Drohobyczer, CNM (below) this morning about the importance of objective and standardized criteria for preceptors of student midwives. One of the obstacles to increasing the number of black midwives is the lack of preceptors in general and of preceptors of color in particular. Drohobyczer suggests that preceptors be credentialed, perhaps by an organization such as the North American Registry of Midwifes (NARM), which already has an approval process in place for preceptors.

Later in the morning, Darynee Blount, LM, CPM (left) and Jennifer Joseph, LM, CPM (right) talked about routes to midwifery. Midwives deliver approximately 10 percent of births or 430,000 births a year. In other countries with better infant and maternal mortality than the US, midwives deliver the majority of babies. We need more midwives in the US.

It takes a very determined and multi-dimensional woman to become a midwife because she has to receive her education, find a preceptor, start a business and figure out how to earn money while she does all this. We need to support our midwives, to create scholarships and grants for midwifery education; form friends of midwives organizations in our cities and states; and help to educate the public, especially young people, about the superiority of midwifery care as documented in Judith Pence Rooks classic book Midwifery and Childbirth in America.

One of the most exciting models of direct entry midwifery education discussed at this panel is at Southwest Tech in Fennimore, Wisconsin, where one can earn an associate degree in direct entry midwifery that combines classroom instruction with the apprenticeship model. A program of this nature is accessible to many students because it offers tuition assistance, affordable housing and liaison with preceptors. Kudos to Sherry Devries and her colleagues for creating this exemplary program.

Here are some resources for those who are considering midwifery as a profession:

For an aspiring midwife FAQ, see Midwifery Education Accreditation Council.

For information on Certified Professional Midwives. see The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives.

For information on Certified Midwives and Certified Nurse Midwives see The American College of Nurse Midwives.

To find a preceptor, contact the midwifery organization in your state.

Please share other helpful resources you know about.

Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded Mothering.com in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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