Gentle Birth Methods, Bali, Indonesia

Become a global maternal health leader! This international leadership training course combines 10-weeks of international volunteer service with 180-hours of online learning.

Course Overview

According to the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), “Midwives attend the vast majority of births in those industrialized countries with the best perintal outcomes”.  Study Abroad, Bali exposes students to models for midwife-lead maternal healthcare and provides foundations in gentle birth techniques. During this course, students will:

  • Engage in personal reflection and critical dialog about cultural humility and working with clients from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.
  • Gain first-hand perspective on the complexities of establishing gentle birth models of care within government-lead healthcare service delivery systems.
  • Examine the spiritual and historical roots of midwifery across different world regions and cultures.
  • Analyze feminine power, cycles of life and death, wisdom and intuition throughout history and consider how individual attitudes and beliefs about women and childbirth inform societal attitudes and beliefs about midwifery.

See International Leadership Training overview for additional course objectives.

Learning Activities

  • 10-week placement as a volunteer assistant to Balinese midwives at Rumah Sehat Medani, a private gentle birth clinic serving low-resourced communities in and around Denpasar, Bali.
  • Online coursework begins 2-weeks prior to international placement and continues until the end of placement. Topics include: Sacred Birth, Interpersonal Communication, Culture & Diversity and Global Maternal Health.
  • Exchange with student midwives on the neighboring island of Java and field trip to a Balinese hospital with a local OBGyn.

Skills Training (entry-level only, observation only)

  • Oral client history
  • Leopold’s Maneuvers
  • Uterine Size, fundal height and fetal age
  • Fetal activity testing
  • Auscultation of fetal heart – Fetoscope, Doppler and Pinard Horn
  • Preparation of birth room
  • Preparation for labor, input & output during labor
  • Assessment of contractions
  • Comfort measures for labor
  • Immediate care of the newborn
  • APGAR and assessment of newborn
  • Bathing mother and baby
  • General postpartum exam
  • Repairing lacerations
  • Specific counseling and education for postpartum & newborn

NOTE: Skills training is subject to change at the discretion of the in-country supervisor and does NOT qualify as “clinical experience” for midwifery students.

Required Reading

  • Birth Models that Work by Davis-Floyd, Barclay, Tritten and Davis
  • Gentle Birth Choices by Suzanne Arms & Barbara Harper
  • Online Library, PDF Articles (included in program cost)


  • Mercy in Action’s Cultural Competency Course ($60. Online & self-paced). Must be completed before Study Abroad course begins. Qualifies as an approved module on cultural competency for health professionals required by NARM for CPM certification and recertification.
  • See International Leadership Training overview for admissions requirements.

“As a midwife, this broadened perspective will allow me to more effectively educate, support and empower my clients throughout their childbearing experience and hopefully help to transform our world as a result.”

— Study Abroad Student