Midwifery Assistant - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 01-10-2009, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am hoping to start working with a local mw as her assistant soon. I'd love to have a heads up of what to expect (both details of the job & life as a mwa), advice on knowledge to have (books to read), etc. I'm also wondering if most mwa's get paid for their service to the mw. I'm also in search of a few books, MT back issues, etc and am wondering where most people go to look for used stuff. I thought there would be a MDC forum but can't seem to find anything.

Thanks!! :
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#2 of 9 Old 01-10-2009, 03:10 PM
 
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#3 of 9 Old 01-10-2009, 04:48 PM
 
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Will you be apprenticing (gaining initial training and experience) or assisting coming in with some previous experience? My understanding (and it could be flawed, I'm pretty new to all this) is that apprenticeship is usually training and experience in exchange for assisting, usually no pay although my preceptor has been very generous and has bought myself and the other apprentice books and supplies. Assistants have some skills and experience and are compensated for it. I could be wrong, that's just my understanding.

Right now I'm reading Heart and Hands, good intro to midwifery, and l'm looking through Susun Weed's Herbs for the Pregnancy Years (or something like that). I think there's a sticky at the top of the thread with reading suggestions.

You can find stuff for sale occasionally in the Trading Post. I've seen mamas post here that they're selling books or equipment.
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#4 of 9 Old 01-10-2009, 09:16 PM
 
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I was a birth assistant for 15 months to two midwives here... since I started out inexperienced (only my three births, one friend's birth and a assisting a midwife workshop) at first I was just reimbursed for gas eventually being paid 5-10% of the birth fee. The amount paid to assistant varies in different areas.

I would recommend reading the books on doula training book lists as well as Heart & Hands and Spiritual Midwifery and/or Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Are you looking at assisting as a stepping stone to becoming a midwife eventually or simply serving as assistant?

Btw, I'm in southern Indiana and I just began apprenticing with a midwife in southeast Indiana so I'm not all that far from you. Wait... I think I know who you are- is that you E? If so we've met on the ICAN lists.

Good luck!
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#5 of 9 Old 01-11-2009, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am hoping that becoming a mwa will eventually lead towards apprenticeship, etc but won't be ready for that for a while. So, while I am going in without any mwa experience, I am hoping to at some point make some money while doing it. In fact, it is necessary or else I can't take the job...unfortunately. I am a doula though so I do have a large base of knowledge of birth, anatomy, etc. I am working my way through Spiritual Midwifery and Heart & Hands but neither one goes over what an assistant's duties typically are. I have only been to one homebirth as of right now (due to change at any moment) and that was my own...my memory is foggy at best...so I am just trying to get an idea of where the mwa is in all of that.

Keep the info coming!
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#6 of 9 Old 01-11-2009, 09:57 PM
 
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I don't know if this will help, but the duties I know to be typical of an apprentice are to basically anticipate what the midwife is going to do and assist her in doing that. When she feels comfortable, she will have YOU do those tasks while she observes. You will do more tasks as time progresses and she feels comfortable with you doing them correctly.
An assistant is one whom the midwife already has confidence in that she can complete tasks with or without supervision and the midwife knows will be a second pair of hands, rather than hands she is constantly having to train.
There can definitely be a blurred line, however... an apprentice may have enough experience, knowledge and confidence that she functions much as an assistant, anticipating, doing, assisting... or she may be completely green and know nothing of what to do at any given time.

Generally, what I do is listen a LOT, this is more of the apprentice side, I take a lot of notes and ask questions after we are away from the client, usually in the car to the next appointment. I try to understand the WHY of what she's doing or saying to a client, and if I don't, I make notes, ask questions and write lots of stuff down, as that is how I learn and remember. I have familiarized myself with what she carries and which bags she puts things in, so I can be useful when she's looking for a chart or a piece of equipment. I have learned how to do basic things, some of which I came with, having been trained previously as an EMT. I can do vitals, finger sticks, cervical exams, pap smears, find and listen to the heartbeat, generally palpate to figure out where baby is, position-wise. All of these things are overseen by the midwife as I do them, or she does them and I watch and learn.
As I demonstrate my willingness to be quiet and learn, not to be one of those people who always respond with "I know" but say "Thank you for teaching me", I am allowed more responsibility and ability to do hands on learning.
That's what I'd recommend to you.
Most midwives appreciate an apprentice OR an assistant that knows clearly her skills, her limits, is humble, knows how to be quiet, literally and figuratively, receptive to learn.
Conversely, a lot of midwives I know are really turned off by the know-it-alls, the chatty cathies, the flakes, the ones who are wishy-washy, etc.
It's hard to apprentice, especially if you have young kids yourself, another job, a husband who doesn't like your being away a lot, or unpredictably, or and not getting paid. It's expensive, you don't have financial aid to help you out, most of the time, it's all out of pocket. You have to have reliable babysitting if you have kids, and an understanding boss, if you have another job.
A lot of these things are big barriers for apprentices and a lot of women don't make it all the way through, because their own barriers are just too great at that point in their lives.
Knowing what you're getting into and trying to temper some of the romantical ideas that get in everyone's head with the realities of what it means to be a homebirth midwife will help you get prepared.
hope that helps some!
- Jen

Mom of 5 working full-time and waiting to go to nursing school! Whew! I need a nap! joy.gif

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#7 of 9 Old 01-12-2009, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Jen, thank you so much! That was very helpful! I think I have a pretty good idea of the hard work involved in all of this. I am just hoping to get financial reward enough to cover my expenses, including babysitting. We are not in a financial place to be able to lose money...hence why I am not ready for apprenticeship yet but hoping for the mwa position. I think I have a good base of knowledge and am a fast learner when it comes to stuff like this because I love it and have a genuine passion for it. At this point, I am just hoping the mw sees the potential in me that I know I have.
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#8 of 9 Old 01-12-2009, 03:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BirthLovinMomma View Post
Jen, thank you so much! That was very helpful! I think I have a pretty good idea of the hard work involved in all of this. I am just hoping to get financial reward enough to cover my expenses, including babysitting. We are not in a financial place to be able to lose money...hence why I am not ready for apprenticeship yet but hoping for the mwa position. I think I have a good base of knowledge and am a fast learner when it comes to stuff like this because I love it and have a genuine passion for it. At this point, I am just hoping the mw sees the potential in me that I know I have.
I wanted to mention too, that you need to be VERY clear what you are looking for and make sure the midwife you are wanting to work with understands this too and you're all on the same page.
Many apprentices work as apprentices and assistants all kinda rolled into one.
Many midwives assume that if you want to assist, it's because you want to be a midwife yourself, someday.
If you come to her with little or no skills and experience, she would probably assume you want to apprentice and learn these skills, so you can be an assistant while you're finishing your apprenticeship and/or book learning.
Some midwives do not pay anyone for their assisting... it's just experience gained.
Most midwives do not pay apprentices, unless it's a minimal amount to help with gas money and or supplies/books
Some midwives who may have a busier practice and or make more money will have a permanent assistant that they pay a set amount, and some have assistants who have been with them for years and years and the relationship works for both of them.
Some midwives charge their apprentices to work with them, somewhat like going to school... you pay the instructor and you buy your own books and pay your own expenses.
A lot of midwives I've talked to will pay nothing for the first few births, for apprentice/assistants, and then will pay a minimal amount for births 5-10, and a larger amount per birth as your experience increases.
This helps weed out those who either don't have enough time or money to be serious about it, and rewards those who stick it out for 6months or more.

It's tough, whether you're apprenticing or assisting or both. It is not easy to work, time wise, and it's usually going to cost you more than you'll get paid. You'll probably be buying books and equipment and spending money on gas and food out... unless you're really organized and remember to always pack a lunch and dinner and waterbottles, to save $.
A lot of midwives will require you to be NNR and CPR certified and some want more, like IV/Blood draw, etc. This can set you back a couple hundred $$ easily. The cost in my area for the neonatal resc. was $90, the CPR for the professional rescuer, through Red Cross was $75 plus the book, I think it was around $100 total, and the iv therapy and blood collection classes vary, depending on where you go to get the class, but plan on at least $75.
This is all going to be out of pocket, most likely. I don't know a LOT of midwives, although a few do, that teach these classes, and therefore can offer them to their own apprentices/assistants for free or reduced cost.

I'm certainly not trying to be discouraging, so please don't get down! I'm just trying to be really realistic, so you have lots to think about.
I appreciated those who were real with me, and wish I had gotten even more info... I might have done some things even sooner or differently.
HTH
- Jen

Mom of 5 working full-time and waiting to go to nursing school! Whew! I need a nap! joy.gif

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#9 of 9 Old 01-13-2009, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Jen, this is exactly the type of realism that I am looking for so I really appreciate it. If you think of anything else you think is important to know, or wish someone would have told you, I would love to hear it. I didn't even think about the fact that I would probably need to pay for some classes, like the NNR & CPR, but it makes total sense. I'm looking forward to sitting down with the mw so I can get the low down of what it all entails.
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