More than a weekend workshop

Many weekend workshops introduce students to a basic birthwork skill set. Unlike these introductory trainings, Birthwise’s Midwifery Assistant (MA) Program is a comprehensive certificate program that trains students through both extensive theoretical learning and hands-on skills practice and, then, supports students during preceptorship training with a midwife from their local community.

All knowledge and skills competencies will be taught and evaluated for each student to assure competency before a student graduates. Students leave the program prepared to serve pregnant clients, in multiple capacities, throughout the childbearing year as a midwifery assistant.

Time and travel commitment

The program starts with a one-week orientation, and then there are three two-week academic sessions spread throughout the program. In between sessions, students work with preceptor midwives back in their home communities. During the sessions, classes happen Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 here at Birthwise Midwifery School in Bridgton, Maine. There may be occasional optional events during a session as well.

Expect to spend roughly twice as many hours on homework as you do in class for a particular course, though this may vary greatly from student to student. Homework can include, but is not limited to, reading, journaling, take-home tests, skill development, project/presentation preparation, and creation of handouts and other documents.

Graduation requirements

  • Attendance at a minimum of 20 births
  • Attendance at a minimum of 15 prenatal visits
  • Attendance at a minimum of 40 postpartum visits
  • Signature verification of all birth, prenatal, and postpartum experiences by the student’s preceptor
  • Assistance with or observation of a minimum of 12 hours of childbirth education classes
  • Completion of 6 hours of shadowing with a lactation consultant and counselor
  • Teaching or co-teaching (at least 50%) an entire series of childbirth education classes
  • Passing grades in all classes and on all final exams and completion of all projects
  • Passing grades on OSATS (objective, structured assessment of technical skills) examinations
  • Completion of required paperwork for any challenged course credits
  • Payment of all outstanding tuition and fees

Opportunities for midwifery assistants

As an MA, you will be able to work with local midwives as an assistant. This will look different depending on the needs of the practice, but it can include assisting with prenatal and postpartum visits, as well as assisting midwives with birth. It all depends on your interests and the needs of the practice or practices that you serve. As an MA, you are not a primary care provider and will not be able to take on your own clients for midwifery care. Every aspect of care that you provide should be supervised by a midwife.

MAs are highly capable, second sets of hands for out-of-hospital midwives. They provide comfort and support to laboring women. They perform clinical tasks, such as checking blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and fetal monitoring under a midwife’s supervision, and they are trained to assist in both maternal and neonatal emergencies. Birth assistants may also take on logistical, housekeeping, or administrative tasks within a midwifery practice. Everything depends on the services that the assist offers and the agreement between the assist and their supervising midwife.

Additionally, your MA certificate will allow you to be self-employed in several different capacities. You can offer individual services to people birthing in all settings, including fertility awareness and childbirth education, doula work, placental encapsulation, and belly casting, or you can offer these together in packages.

Housing in Bridgton, Maine

It is the student’s responsibility to secure lodging for each of the sessions, although Birthwise can assist you in finding an appropriate option. There are many seasonal rental properties in the area, and some faculty and staff rent rooms. Your cohort will be connected via email and Facebook before the start of class, so you might think about staying together when you’re here.

Meals are not included in the price of tuition, but there is a large kitchen where you will be able to prepare food with your classmates every day. There are a couple of large local markets in Bridgton, Maine, and, depending on the season, there may also be farmer’s markets open.