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The How to's and Not to's of Midwife Apprenticeship

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Soooo..... I am about to call/email/snailmail a midwife about possible apprenticeship under her . . . .
What should I ask her, how should I go about it, what should I include about myself, how should I prepare before I jump into apprenticeship, any rules on work ethics, any proper standards for apprentices? I want to be a good apprentice that the midwife will enjoy having around..... how does one go about it????
Your apprenticeship stories would be appreciated to.
I AM SO EXCITED!!!!! TOTALLY ready to to all the juicy stuff you guys can offer me.
~Lots of Joy
post #2 of 18
Can I take it back a step and ask you a question? How do you FIND a midwife to apprentice under? I assume you would probaly look for a DEM (or CPM) as opposed to a CNM? or would some CNMs be willing to let you apprentice under them(i.e. non-hospital kind)? This midwife, is she someone you know already? or did you just find her online/in a phonebook/get a reference from her?

I'm truly, 100% interested, because, well, one day, I hope to apprentice to become a midwife, so i'm just as interested in this question as you are so !
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
I prefer word of mouth. And around here, in Idaho, A LOT of rural women do homebirths, so it is very easy to 'get to know' a certain midwife by word of mouth....
I had hoped to apprentice to a certain ID midwife, however we are moving to South Dakota, and I had to look up some Minnesota Midwifes via phonebook and internet. So I had no word of mouth going, or reference, I am 'feeling' around....so to speak with the above mentioned midwife as the one who's closer to the SD MN border... I know nothing about her, and hope to get to know her thru email or over the phone or possibly meeting her face to face after that. She is a CPM, BTW.

So.... I am extremely anxious about it and I really want to go about it the right way ...
post #4 of 18
So, I have certain expectations for an interested apprentice.

I ask for them to be trained as a doula and to have had some good experience being on call and working as a doula. This means that they have already discovered that their passion for birth is compatible the lifestyle for themselves and their families.

I ask them to be involved in the birth community by attending midwifery or friends of midwives meetings/activities. I want to see commitment, communication and support for other midwives and birthing families. We learn so much from each other.

Does this help?

Besides having somewhat compatible personalities, I think having a good contract with expectations is important for the apprentice, midwife and families in her practice equally.
post #5 of 18
i have no advice really but i want to wish you good luck. i think the ins and outs of approaching a preceptor depends on where you live and how much competition there is for a preceptor. my own thoughts are just to go ahead and phone and be direct in what you are looking for but maybe that's not the best way.
post #6 of 18
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfacing View Post


worms in your teeth, no, I read that wrong before I hit the quote button, had to of read it wrong!!!!!



Great thread, I am anxious for more replies!
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tummy View Post
worms in your teeth, no, I read that wrong before I hit the quote button, had to of read it wrong!!!!!
My username is taken from the Margaret Atwood novel Surfacing
http://www.amazon.com/Surfacing-Marg...2485728&sr=8-1

There is a scene in which the narrator kind of gets into the rich black earth, literally and figuratively, and is reborn. Sometimes I feel like I`m in that state, eating soil (and whatever is in it), `going under`in an effort to get to a state of wholeness. So hence the eating worms!!!
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by God's Child View Post
Soooo..... I am about to call/email/snailmail a midwife about possible apprenticeship under her . . . .
What should I ask her, how should I go about it, what should I include about myself, how should I prepare before I jump into apprenticeship, any rules on work ethics, any proper standards for apprentices? I want to be a good apprentice that the midwife will enjoy having around..... how does one go about it????
Your apprenticeship stories would be appreciated to.
I AM SO EXCITED!!!!! TOTALLY ready to to all the juicy stuff you guys can offer me.
~Lots of Joy
Do you have a resume outlining the work and education you have gained so far that connects with midwifery work? If not, see if you could put one together (can be simple) as it is a very easy way to show a midwife the level of education you have so far or any related work at a glance. Call or email her and touch base.

As far as how to be an apprentice.... that is a huge and involved subject! The basics of it are: following your preceptor's requirements and expectations, try to be as helpful as possible, be thankful for the opportunity, NEVER contradict or question your preceptor infront of clients, be oncall when your preceptor is, go to everything you are asked to by your preceptor (prenatals, postpartums, everything), study on your own time, join study groups or start one, be involved in the midwifery politics and organizations of your state, be a go-getter, do not expect to be spoonfed knowledge, be dedicated, and while usually it is great to be yourself.... when you are an apprentice you should try to be the "yourself" that best matches your preceptor's practice.

Good luck!
post #10 of 18
One tip I took away from a discussion on apprenticeships (and how to find them) at the recent Midwifery Today conference is to offer to help - with anything. Perhaps you tell her you're moving to the area, are pursuing midwifery, and would be available to offer any help you can - whether that's directly birth-related, or not.

Assisting her with non-birth tasks gives her a chance to get to know you, too, and for you to develop a relationship with her before she decides if she's ready to have you as an official apprentice. I think it's a very nice, natural way to move into that role, too.
post #11 of 18
post #12 of 18
I am in the midst of an apprenticeship with an awesome midwife ( actually on break waiting for baby #3 and she is my midwife as well) . I was kind of her first apprentice and she my first ( and only so-far) mentor. Looking back I can think of things that would be helpful and would probably ask in the distant future when I have an apprentice. First, I definitely 2nd the PP about doula training and being on call. It is a huge lifestyle adjustment, especially if you have children. Try to attend hospital and home births. 2) Get clarity about your path a little and do your paperwork as you go. 3) By a few books, at least Heart and Hands and the NARM skills book, outline a budget and path to acquire more books over time 3) I guess along those lines create a timeline and budget to get certain simple equipment. Minimum, buy yourself a box of gloves, and a blood pressure cuff. Maybe a fetoscope. Take everyone's blood pressure you can for practice, this is a great way to be able to "do something" helpful to the midwife. 4) Take CPR and Neonatal resusitation, that way again, you can be helpful if you are needed. and it demonstrates a commitment to the path. 5) Take a breastfeeding class ( though if you get DONA certified you will have to as well) 6.) Become very well versed with confidentiality. This rule is GOLDEN, you would no longer be able to chat about birth with your friends and online, being able to assure a midwife of ability to be professional is important.

It is a commitment for a midwife to take on an apprentice, she has a lot of teaching to do before you are actually useful and anything you can do to demonstrate that you will be an asset instead of more work for her (at least in the long run) is helpful. Be very respectful, every midwife has different philosophies about practice, about birth, and apprentices. Remember you do not need to be exactly like her but do need to learn as much as you can from her and be very respectful of that. Good Luck!
post #13 of 18
Another thought, be relaxed and professional in appearance and if you do not have children yet be very very humble.
post #14 of 18
Be humble regardless of whether you have children or not.
Be honoured that women are willing to share their childbearing year with you and that your preceptor is sharing her knowledge (and her clients with you).
And don't complain....I always tried as a student (and still as a midwife) to remember that no matter how tired I am the birthing mom is more tired so I wouldn't let it show. If I felt busy and overwhelmed I'd remember that my preceptor has been there and doesn't want to hear about it, that she'd fought a harder and longer path to become a midwife and I should be grateful to her that she paved the way for me.
Smile and be happy, you get the honour of being part of birth and life and there is nothing more amazing then that.
post #15 of 18
Other people have given you good advice, so my first advice is that you take it to heart. My other advice is this:

1. Be realistic about what you have to offer your preceptor. No, REALLY realistic...really really realistic. It is a good idea, I think, if you ask various midwives (such as here, or other forums) to give you an assessment, to help you be realistic about your 'place' in the scheme of things, given your current state of learning and experience with birth.

Much the same is true for doula training--though of course being a doula is different in many ways from 'med training', and as others have pointed out, doula training and work can be useful on the path to midwifery. But the rules are different for mws and doulas--a doula is not really responsible for the health/well-being of mother and baby the way a mw is. So, some of what is learned in doula training will also have to be set aside; your view of your preceptor and her actions/choices with clients cannot be tainted by rules that apply to doulas but not to mws.

It is a good thing to honor your prior learning and experiences in birth work (or related, such as nursing). It is a good thing to have *some* ego, some self-esteem, good to view yourself as an equal to all beings, deserving of respect, kindness/courtesy, and to be given the training you seek in an exchange with your mentor. And yet it is SO important that you are realistic about your book-learning and experience--that you keep a healthy sense of proportion about all that. As 'an equal to all beings', you certainly have the right to ask questions, speak your opinion, etc (in appropriate, courteous time and fashion!)....but you must be prepared to accept new information and perspective. You must be mentally and emotionally prepared to have your assumptions challenged, and to be critiqued as a student without taking that personally. You may 'become friends' with your mentor, but she MUST be your mentor/teacher! And she must, for her own survival, do/say what she feels is needed to protect her own reputation and working relationships w/clients. COnsider how well (or not) you currently take critique--ask your loved ones and former instructors for an honest appraisal of this.

Anyway--be realistic, be open, be ready to be a student including ready to be corrected/critiqued. Know that you cannot expect your mw to treat you with kid gloves, walk on eggshells around your sensitivites--though you will always deserve courteous treatment, even in being critiqued. If you run off with hurt feelings/outrage over a critique--well, that will be about YOU, not your mentor. And believe me, you will most certainly NOT be treated always with courtesy and kindness by your future clients if they are upset about something!

2. Communication is HUGELY important!!!! For you and your preceptor, for you and her and clients....really, for you in your relationship with yourself and with everyone in your life. So take it seriously, take comm courses of various sorts, or read books on communication and practice the skills and theories involved. You can look into NVC (non-violent comm) or any number of others. Communication is HUGELY important in this work. It is a subject to learn and a set of skills to practice just as avidly as any other more 'science-y' subject of midwifery.
post #16 of 18
I'm a (currently nonpracticing) midwife here on the border of MN/ND and have connections to all the midwives in the states of ND and SD in some way shape or form. If you let me know who you want to work with (on here or by PM is fine) I'd be happy to help out with introductions, etc.
post #17 of 18
I have removed a couple of posts. Please remember that if you have questions about something being removed, or other mod actions, please PM the mod or admin. Do not discuss them on the thread. Thanks!
post #18 of 18
Sorry!
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