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A midwife is a medical practitioner who specializes in matters of birth. Training to become a midwife can take years of study, and may include a long apprenticeship as an assistant. To become a midwife is to take an active part in assisting babies into the world, and can be a fulfilling career. Becoming a midwife takes considerable preparation, but can be achieved through many paths of study.
When considering becoming a midwife, it is important to study regional licensing laws. There are many different sets of guidelines for the certification process, with widely varying licensing requirements. In some areas, formal medical training is required, although many midwives practice legally without becoming fully-fledged doctors or nurses. Midwives may also undergo periodic re-certification to ensure that their practice is maintaining professional standards. To get up-to-date information on local license requirements, contact midwives that serve the regional area, or speak with local medical authorities.
It is important when becoming a midwife to decide what level of certification best fits personal plans. Many midwives are actually nurse-midwives, who work in association with hospitals or obstetric practices to provide alternative birth services. Others work in a completely isolated practice, or with a group of like-minded practitioners. Finding a program of study and certification that fits with personal requirements and beliefs may make the time spent training considerably easier and more fulfilling.
Even if formal medical school is not required, study of biology, obstetrics, and alternative medicine may be suggested. Although midwives in the modern scientific era usually work with pregnancies where complications are not expected, serious health risks and even the potential for fatalities can occur during the birth process. A working knowledge of the risks, common complications, and possible remedies involved in a difficult birth may be greatly useful to a practicing midwife.
Becoming a midwife usually requires an apprenticeship, in which the trainee participates in midwife-run births as an assistant. At these training sessions, the assistant may help the midwife prepare the expectant mother for birth, perform certain tasks during the labor and birth process, and learn postpartum care for both mother and child. Watching and assisting an experienced midwife can teach valuable tricks of the trade that reading books and studying literature cannot impart.
It may be wise, when considering becoming a midwife, to study the history of the profession. Midwives have been a constant presence in human society since the earliest days of civilization. In some times, midwives have been the victims of persecution, accused of witchcraft or black sorcery. Other societies have always held midwives in high regard, considering them wise and powerful practitioners for their important part in the human life cycle.
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