Nutrition for Maternal & Newborn Health, South Africa

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 Objectives

Nutrition and diet is one of the most important factors in determining health outcomes for mom and baby.  This course examines nutrition as holistic prevention within midwife-lead practices. As part of this experience, students will be exposed to midwifery and labor support in a variety of settings, including home and hospital and will:

  • Examine health and nutrition as a means to promote well being and help reduce morbidity derived from chronic illnesses that are linked to nutritional inadequacies during pregnancy and postpartum.
  • Survey complimentary and alternative approaches that practitioners use to identify nutritional deficiencies and overcome those deficiencies through a proper diet in accordance to the resources, means, special diets, personal preferences and cultural preferences of the client.
  • Engage in personal reflection and critical dialog about cultural humility and working with clients from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds; Midwife-lead care in home and hospital settings and the role of a midwife as autonomous care provider.

See International Leadership Training overview for additional course objectives.

Learning Activities

  • Assist midwifery-lead care at an independent birth center and doula-care at a government hospital.
  • Assist with mobile outreach providing services to families and children in low-resource communities.
  • Online coursework begins 2-weeks prior to international placement and continues until the end of placement. Topics include: Nutritional Counseling, Interpersonal Communication, Culture & Diversity and Global Maternal Health.

Skills Training (entry-level)

  • Client intake
  • Nutrition assessment and counseling
  • Doula training/ labor support

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

  • Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simkin
  • Birth Models that Work, Davis-Floyd, Barclay, Tritten and Daviss
  • 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.

“I am extremely excited to be completely immersed in a totally different birth culture than my own, and for the opportunity to really gain a fresh perspective on how I perceive labour, birth and postpartum care.”

— Study Abroad Student