Women’s Reproductive Health, Guatemala

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

Course Objectives

Every woman deserves access to reproductive health care and midwifery services. Study Abroad Guatemala provides foundations in reproductive health throughout the life cycle. Study Abroad Guatemala emphasizes:

  • Reproductive Health: Gain entry-level skills and knowledge of the normal reproductive cycle, women’s health from menarche to menopause, gentle birth techniques, water birth techniques, contraception and family planning, abortion care, domestic violence and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Leadership: Engage in personal reflection and critical dialog about cultural humility and working with clients from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds; humanized birth and informed choice for women from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds; and indigenous midwives and cultural birth practices in Guatemala.

See International Leadership Training overview for additional course objectives.

Learning Activities

  • Daily observation and volunteer service at Manos Abiertas, a Planned Parenthood supported women’s health clinic in Ciudad Vieja. Clinic experience includes shared rotations with Mayan midwifery students who are enrolled in the first professional midwifery school in Guatemala. Lead by an in-country midwife/supervisor.
  • Active observation and entry-level assistance at Centro de Parto Natural, a private water birth clinic providing full spectrum reproductive health services, midwifery services and birth education courses to middle and high income families in Guatemala City. Lead by an in-country midwife/supervisor.
  • Online coursework begins 2-weeks prior to international placement and continues until the end of placement. Topics include: Reproductive Health, Interpersonal Communication, Culture & Diversity and Global Maternal Health.
  • 6-hours of group Spanish language instruction per week including Spanish vocabulary for intake and assessment in reproductive health and midwifery care and intermediate conversational Spanish.
  • 1-day workshop on Mayan Abdominal Massage or Mayan herbalism. Lead by a native Mayan practitioner.

Skills Training (entry-level)

  • Spanish vocabulary for client intake and assessment in reproductive health and midwifery care.
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Well-woman care
  • Counseling for family planning and birth control methods
  • Basic, general midwifery skills for the prenatal period
  • Water birth techniques

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

  • A Book for Midwives: Care for Pregnancy, Birth and Women’s Health, by Klein, Miller and Thomson
  • Birth Models that Work, Davis-Floyd, Barclay, Tritten and Daviss
  • Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion, by Linda Weber
  • 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.
  • Basic Spanish (beginner-level). Recommended course: http://livemocha.com/
  • See International Leadership Training overview for admissions requirements.

“I am very grateful to have such a unique opportunity to expand my worldview, explore my role as a birth facilitator, and connect with culture filled with so much love and reverence for life. Upon completion of this program, I believe that I will not only be a more competent care provider but also a more well-rounded person overall, and it is only natural that this will impact my life and professional practice in remarkable ways.”

— Study Abroad Student