Today, ten students graduate from Birthwise Midwifery School in an intimate ceremony at the First Congregational Church. These graduates will, now, sit for the National Association of Registered Midwives’ Exam or join the Canadian Bridging Midwifery Program, before beginning their work as professional midwives. Here’s their advice for current students:
Alison Fischman of Wolcott, VT plans to start a small homebirth practice in Vermont after graduation. She will serve a rural area that, currently, does not have many midwives, expanding access to midwifery in rural areas. In her practice, she hopes to collaborate with other midwives working in Vermont.
Her advice to current students is: “It is going to take everyone around you supporting you to get through this, reach out to your community and you will be surprised how many people want to help you!”
Corinne Harrison of Minnesota will, after graduation, spend the fall finishing up her preceptorship in Berkeley, CA. Going forward, she’s looking to put all her hard work at Birthwise into action by opening her own homebirth practice. The location of that practice is yet to be determined, although Corinne especially loves Maine.
Her advice to current students is: “I would advise Birthwise students to be gentle and loving with themselves and also to jump into the lake whenever you get the chance!”
Shauntée Henry was born in Panama and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. She plans to stay on at Brookhaven Natural Birth Center in Harrisonburg, VA while she prepares for the NARM Exam. She will also continue to work with Mother Health International as a Program Manager and volunteer at their Birth House in Atiak, Northern Uganda.
Her advice to current students is: “Learn from every single experience, good and bad. Being a midwifery student is hard because our work requires so much: sensitivity, courage, strength, and a broad knowledge base. Be easy on yourself and try not to take critique personally. View every mistake as an opportunity to become a better midwife, and don’t be afraid to seek out experiences that will challenge your beliefs and assumptions about birth.”
Meredith Milholland lives in the small coastal town of Port Townsend, WA with her husband, daughter, dogs, chickens, and bees. With her midwifery partner, Morgan Hughes, she recently birthed a homebirth practice called Salt and Cedar Midwifery. The practice will serve families in Washington’s Jefferson, Kitsap, and Callam counties.
Her advice to current students is: “Stick with it! Make time for yourself and your families. Midwifery is hard work. Wonderful work, but demanding. I think my main lesson as a student was to humble myself to the workload and family balance, knowing that in order to be sustainable as a midwife I needed to be nourished as a person first.”
Hannah Neumann of Louisville, KY has found her roots in the Mountain Washington Valley Region where she, currently, grows organic vegetables on Mountain Flower Farm. After graduation, she will continue to work as an assistant midwife with Sacopee Valley Midwives. Hannah is also a practitioner of the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy and plans to open a private therapy practice with offices in Portland, ME and North Conway, NH.
Her advice to current students is: “Having the support of fellow students, friends and family is key and will help you persevere through a difficult but worthwhile journey.”
Heidi Riendeau lives in the small town of Glover, VT with her two children. After graduation, she plans to spend the summer reuniting with family and friends (after dedicating so much of the last year to her studies and apprenticeship). Heidi, then, plans to open her own midwifery practice, which will serve the people of Northeast Vermont and parts of Northern New Hampshire. She hopes that, as a midwife, she will be able to provide her community with new options for pregnancy care and childbirth.
“My advice for future Birthwise students: Ground yourself and know your boundaries. This work takes grit and resilience and will provide you with continuous lessons from which to build your own practice and help define who you are as a midwife. Trust your intuition and speak your truth. Foster relationships with your fellow students, for they will provide support and friendships like no other.”
Jahmanna Selassie of Ann Arbor, MI will open her own midwifery practice after graduation. She also runs Mosaic Midwifery, a collective of midwives of the color in the Detroit area. Mosaic Midwifery holds community meetings on homebirth and becoming a midwife. Through the collective, Jahmanna plans to offer a birth assistant class, group prenatal visits, and public forums on natural health, pregnancy, and birth.
“My advice that I would give to Birthwise students is to keep your gaze on where you are right now in the program. Lean on other Birthwise students, and other students in your cohort for support and a dose of healthy badass if ‘I can do it you can competition.’ Also don’t forget to dream!”
Jamiena Shah of Toronto, ON is currently finishing up her apprenticeship with Sarah Ackerly of Northern Sun Family Healthcare in Topsham, ME. Afterwards, she will move on to Lancaster, PA to work with Diane Goslin. Next year, she will spend a few months practicing in India, where she has family roots. Then, in the spring, she will settle down in Toronto to begin the Canadian Midwifery Bridging Program.
Her advice to current students is: “Ask for what you need–don’t be shy. Be honest and upfront no matter how terrible you think it is. I had to relearn how to be a student again and I was terrible at it, but blossomed once in preceptorship. Don’t give up…you’ll make it!”
Audrey Stewart of Corbin, KY will be starting a small midwifery practice back home, working with her husband on their farm, and raising her wonderful children.
She says: “The first baby I ever caught was not caught. I let her fall in the toilet. Brand new newborn in cold, used, toilet water. It was not an auspicious, or inspiring beginning for anyone. I felt no one could be less suited, or less qualified, to be a midwife. But now I am a midwife, and not just because I’m graduating. Somewhere I changed from a woman just trying not to kill anyone, to a competent and capable midwife. You don’t have to be good at it your first time, or even your twentieth. You don’t really even have to believe in yourself. If you truly want to be a midwife, that’s enough. Just keep trying, every chance you get, try again. Then there will come a time when the midwife you already are will stand up, gently push your fumbling student self to the side, and say ‘I’ve got this.’”
Audrey Waddell of Ottawa, ON plans on doing midwifery work overseas to gain a broader experience of global maternity care after graduation. Her long-term goal is to complete the Canadian Midwifery Bridging Program so that she can work as a midwife in her home community of Ottawa.
Her advice to current students is: “The path to becoming a confident, well trained midwife is a very difficult route to take. There will be many bumps, and likely a few detours involved, but with determination and passion for midwifery you can succeed.”