Which Birth Institute program is right for me?

Midwife Program  Doula Program  Study Abroad  Facilitator Training
Theoretical Coursework  3600 hours  120 hours  300 hours  40 hours
 Clinical Coursework  2000 hours  120 hours  none  none
 Time to Completion  3 to 5 years  8-weeks to 1-year  8-weeks  9-weeks
 Time Commitment  25-45 hrs/wk  15-30 hrs/wk  45 hrs/wk  45 hrs/wk
 Location  From home  From home  On Location  On Location
 Online Coursework  $16,350  $3,600  $1,350  Waived
 Study Abroad Fee  $4,150 + Travel  $4,150 + Travel  $4,150 + Travel  Travel Expenses
 Books/Supplies  $600  $250  None  None
 Orientation  2 hours, online  none  5-hours, online  1-week, onsite
 Certificate Awarded  Holistic Midwifery  Holistic Doula  Attendance  Attendance
 Educational Standards  ICM  N/A  Forum on Edu. Abroad  N/A
 Graduates Eligible to Apply for Professional Licensure or CEUs  Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)  N/A N/A  CEUs

What is a midwife?

A midwife is recognized as a responsible and accountable professional who works in partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period, conduct births on the midwife’s own responsibility and to provide care for the newborn and the infant (International Confederation of Midwives).

A midwife may be qualified to practice in a wide range of settings, from homes and birth centers to healthcare clinics and hospitals, based on her education and legal requirements where she is licensed. Based upon recommendations by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), Birth Institute Holistic Midwifery Program graduates demonstrate the following essential competencies:

  • Have the requisite knowledge and skills from obstetrics, neonatology, the social sciences, public health and ethics that form the basis of high quality, culturally relevant, appropriate care for women, newborns and childbearing families.
  • Provide high quality culturally sensitive health education and services to all in the community in order to promote health family life, planned pregnancies and positive parenting.
  • Provide high quality antenatal care to maximize health during pregnancy and that includes early detection and treatment or referral of selected complications.
  • Provide high quality, culturally sensitive care during labor, conduct a clean and safe birth and handle selected emergency situations to maximize the health of women and their newborns.
  • Provide comprehensive, high quality, culturally sensitive postpartum care to women.
  • Provide high quality, comprehensive care for the essentially healthy infant from birth to two months of age.

Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs)

Birth Institute does not oversee midwife certification or regulation in any country, state, or jurisdiction and participation in Birth Institute programs or courses does not guarantee certification or licensure. Students who wish to become certified upon completion of the Holistic Midwifery Program are responsible for educating themselves about regulatory requirements and restrictions to midwifery in the place where they wish to become a practicing midwife.

Students who complete their supervised clinical practicum with a NARM approved preceptor in the United States and meet the Portfolio Evaluation Process (PEP) requirements upon completion of the Holistic Midwifery Program will be eligible to sit for the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) examination, conducted by the North American Registry of Midwives. CPMs are recognized in certain parts of the United States and work in out-of-hospital settings, most often in the home.

The demand for CPMs is rising as a growing body of research indicates excellent outcomes for low-risk births at home. A busy CPM might take on 3-4 births per month, resulting in a full-time career that includes a regular schedule of prenatal visits, births, postpartum checkups and continuing education. Unless a CPM is working with a midwife partner, she is required to be on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and may work odd or lengthy hours.

According to midwifepay.com, the average yearly income of a CPM is US$78,200, however pay varies widely according to experience level and location. Most CPMs report a high level of job satisfaction, knowing that they provide an essential service in their communities, and make positive differences in the lives of families.

What is a doula?

A birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth (DONA Internationa).

Doula care is non-medical and emphasizes emotional support and physical comfort. A rising number of families are hiring doulas, in addition to their doctor, professional midwife or nurse midwife, to serve as the family’s personal support person and advocate through pregnancy and childbirth. Doulas often work in hospital settings, but are also welcome in birth centers and at home births, making them one of the most versatile birth professionals. They may be hired by a hospital, work independently, or practice as part of a doula collective.

Graduates of the Birth Institute Holistic Doula Program demonstrate the following essential competencies:

  • Promote physical, emotional and spiritual health of mothers, babies, and families throughout pregnancy, birth and early parenthood (our graduates are trained to work seamlessly as both birth and postpartum doula, providing continuity of care to families).
  • Advocate for body-centered, complementary and alternative approaches to (1) prepare a woman for labor and birth (2) support women and families during labor and birth (3) foster bonding and attachment between mother and baby.
  • Provide breastfeeding support from initiation through early phases of breastfeeding, including: breastfeeding behaviors, baby-led breastfeeding and common breastfeeding problems.
  • Support the emotional and spiritual needs of mother and family in the event of unexpected birth events and/or outcomes.
  • Provide courteous, non-judgmental, non-discriminatory, and culturally appropriate services to diverse clients.
  • Advocate for collaborative health care and informed consent in a variety of maternal healthcare settings.

Full-time doulas take on 4 or more clients per month. Client interactions may include birth education classes, prenatal visits, presence throughout labor and delivery, breastfeeding support, and support during the postpartum period.  Depending on scope and length of services, a doula may earn US$350-$2500 per client. Often, doulas have complementary careers or alternate sources of income, and they sometimes work on a sliding scale to provide support for high-need families.

Certified Doulas

Birth Institute does not oversee doula certification or regulation in any country, state, or jurisdiction and participation in Birth Institute programs or courses does not guarantee certification. Certifying bodies such as DONA International work to promote standards for doula education and practice, providing certificate at two levels: birth doula and postpartum doula. Graduates of the Birth Institute Holistic Doula Program may choose to pursue these certifications upon completion of the program by providing the proper documentation to the certifying entity of their choice. However, doula scope of practice is not regulated by government entities, which means that certification is not legally required to work as a doula.

Why Should I Study Abroad with Birth Institute?

Our goal is to develop a worldwide network of global leaders who are equipped to make significant improvements in maternal and infant health where it is needed most. Birth Institute’s study abroad courses offer unique experiential learning opportunities for students through a combination of non-clinical placement at a women’s health facility or birth center and online theoretical coursework in a shared, global classroom.  Conducted in partnership with midwives, doulas and community healthcare providers in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the United States, all courses encourage participants to develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. Students from a variety of academic disciplines are welcome and students enrolled in doula or midwifery programs are encouraged to include study abroad as part of their program via Global Track.

By combining theoretical coursework with real-life experiences, participants are encouraged to reveal “aha” moments in the field, during which conventional wisdom is trumped by deeper, more seasoned insights. Rather than spoon-feeding concepts to participants, instructors use critical thinking, participatory group process, active listening, problem-based learning and reflection exercises to uncover most or all of the relevant learning points from the reading, assignments and study abroad experience. By engaging in this unique learning opportunity abroad, participants will:

  • Explore public health and ethics that form the basis of high quality, culturally relevant, appropriate care for women, newborns and childbearing families
  • Build capacity for personal reflection and critical dialog about world culture, power dynamics and women’s issues as they relate to civic participation and social change
  • Develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills required to be effective global leaders regardless of the industry or field.