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What does a midwife need to know?

MidwiferyEducationHave you ever wondered who decides what you need to know to be a midwife? This is an important question, because the answer to this question helps define who is (and is not) a midwife. The answer to this question defines the difference between a nurse and a midwife, a doula and a midwife, or a physician and a midwife. The answer to this question explains why midwifery is a unique form of health care, and also the limits of a midwife. 

Defining what you need to know to be a midwife is an act of power over midwifery. So who is it who defines this? The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM).

ICM is a non-governmental organisation that brings together midwifery organizations from over 100 countries to help set standards of education and practice through multiple routes of advocacy. Through, ICM midwives have a voice in the work of the World Health Organization and ICM strengthens the voice of midwifery associations within the individual countries.

ICM has invested much time and energy into defining what makes a midwife.  I recommend your first step in pursing a midwifery education is to read the Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice. Not only will this document help you determine if midwifery is the correct path to meet your career goals, but it will also help you evaluate the potential training opportunities you may have.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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