AAMI Midwifery Studies Program

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When I look through the huge library of resources and talk with the amazing souls involved in AAMI I feel so honored to be a part of nurturing excellence in distance midwifery education.

We are gleaning the experience and wisdom gained since Ancient Art Midwifery was started in the 1980s and adding the technology that can bring women from around the world together in community. The result is a content-rich and family-friendly program that is accessible and always-on with wisdom from world-renowned teachers. Add payment options and online communities to the treasure trove of information and experience and you have a program that is just right to bring the Ancient Arts into the future.

As a graduate of AAMI your knowledge of physiologically normal pregnancy and birth will equip you to educate and support your clients in any birth setting, with the skill set and knowledge to recognize when a birth moves into the medical realm. Your passion for birthwork combined with the deep work you will do on yourself in our program will prepare you to be truly present in a mother’s sacred space when she is birthing a mother.

I look forward to supporting you as you move forward with your passion, we have an amazing team ready to serve and I look forward to connecting with you personally. You can contact me anytime via LoriBarklage@AncientArtMidwifery.com


In My Inbox – If you trust birth so much, why is the AAMI midwifery course so hard?

Shared on Facebook September 15, 2010 

This is actually one of my favorite questions.  I have so much to say on this topic I don’t know where to start.

First,  Ancient Art Midwifery Institute’s Advanced Midwifery Studies is incredibly comprehensive, so it is difficult in that there is a lot of work to do.  It is not difficult in that any of the assignments are exceedingly complex. Yes, it is a daunting undertaking, by design,  and as long as I am in charge, it always will be.  There has been a lot of pressure to conform and make the course shorter and easier but I think mothers and babies deserve midwives with the level of knowledge and wisdom that this kind of work produces.

When I got started there was NOTHING in the way of academic education.  I created this course originally for my own apprentices based on what I had done for myself prior to my becoming a midwife.  I did not think the curriculum was too hard, then or now.  Have been told that many times in the past 34+ years, but I tend to disagree.  I think that if you are going to call yourself a midwife and hang out your shingle as such, you need to know EVERYTHING.  If you are going to advocate for, and educate and encourage women you work with, you need to be on the cutting edge, so to speak of all things birth.  You need to have a very clear understanding of the birth process and every possible birthing scenario. You need to be a walking encyclopedia on birth.

Originally, most of our enrollment was comprised of women who were already serving as midwives….some had been serving for many years, and some with numbers that exceeded 1000.  That is no longer the case.  Once midwives have the CPM, they tend to not enroll with us these days.  That being said, the exception is that our students often get their CPM in the first year of enrollment with us; some continue, some don’t.  Our piece of paper is considerably more difficult to get than the CPM. For those of our students who want the CPM, we help them to whatever degree they want with an additional NARM FOCUS option.  Most do not take advantage of that option as they are so well prepared without it, but we offer it nonetheless.  We do not feed anyone actual test questions. We do not “teach to test” and the NARM FOCUS is only available after a good portion of the course has been submitted and evaluated. There were no midwifery tests in place, or credentials to punctuate a midwife’s education when I created the course in 1980.  Our graduates created the MSAT (Midwifery Scholastic Achievement Test) which is one of several tests our students have to pass before graduation in the mid 80s.  It is still quite difficult to pass that test the first time, and my students tell me it is much more difficult to pass than the NARM written exam.

Many of our students are not interested in credentialing, but those who become credentialed and/or licensed often do that long before they finish with us. We have had many students quit to become CNMS and a few CNMs come back and complete what they started. I love those midwives who want to keep learning even after someone has deemed them official. What is says to me is that they are truly interested in better serving women even when no one is watching or giving them credit for it.

Birth is inherently safe and becomes less safe the more it is messed with.  As in all aspects of life, there are exceptions, but in general, birth is a biological function and not a medical “procedure.”   Birth is safe; interference is risky.

It has always been my conviction that midwives who know MORE, do LESS.  Doing less makes birth safer, but knowing how to do LESS requires a lot more in terms of education.  It was my observation in my training, and my experience beyond that, that the midwives who knew the least about the science of birth, interfered the most. My many years as a midwifery educator has borne that out.  You know the old saying, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  That is true in midwifery.  A woman who goes into labor and just has her five year old there or her neighbor is not likely to have any interference with her birth.  Her chances of something going wrong are actually quite slim. Knowing nothing at all means that whoever is there is not going to do anything.  However, that same woman’s chances of something going wrong increase dramatically if she has a scaredy cat midwife or a midwife with an inadequate comprehension of physiology and birth. (That was the kind of midwife I had first time around.)  Chances of something going wrong increase at a rate commensurate with the interference.  Her chances of something going wrong are kept to a minimum if interference is kept to a minimum. PERIOD. We all “say” that about hospital birth, but a lot of midwives are not willing to accept that it is just a true statement about birth in general.  Leaving woman and babies alone to do their thing is safer.  Midwives are NOT the guardians of normal birth. (Heck, many midwives have never seen an unhindered normal birth. ) Midwives are, according to the original meaning of the word, more accurately the guardian of the woman’s space so that she and her baby can experience the normal birth they deserve to have….and that would be with minimal interference and NO interfearance.

The most fear I see among midwives, is in those who don’t have the scope of preparation that my students have.

I think I have been doing this long enough to be able to say with some validity that knowing more gives a midwife confidence and competence to do less….and doing less adds safety.  Therefore, my extremely well educated students who stick it out through the whole course are qualified to know what to do in any situation but beyond that they know what NOT to do and they can tell you WHY.  Yep, we think it is important to know everything there is to know about the medical model, the medwifery model, the midwifery model…..but actually serve in the mamma model by dismissing most of all that.  How? by knowing how to judge the validity of the protocol.  We keep asking the question: what does the science say?  Not tradition, not fear, not medicine….good science; best service. Another thing that my students spend hundreds of hours working on is the most valuable skill a midwife needs to possess: how to communicate with, educate and encourage women to own their own births.

I want to assure you that my students are well prepared to handle anything that might need to be handled, but they are not very likely to precipitate such an event. Midwives with less of an education, who have a fear based education or who are practicing according to the state’s or a midwifery organization’s protocol rather than accurate science…..well, I can’t vouch for them.

My students spend hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours becoming qualified to do as little as possible TO a mamma and baby so they can most effectively SERVE a mamma and baby. And we think that is what midwifery is about: serving.

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If you enroll today and pay in full* you will get…

These bonuses:

  • A package of downloadable recordings from our world-renowned teachers
  • Birth with Gloria Lemay – DVD
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  • All required study modules
  • Gail Hart’s book, “Research Updates for Midwives”

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  • Our AAMI Midwifery Studies Program online classes
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  • Truth Teller’s Conference Calls
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*Financing is a wonderful value with its own set of bonuses

Enrollment in Advanced Midwifery Studies includes:

  • 48 month access to our online Midwifery Studies program
  • Submission evaluations
  • All required study modules
  • A total of six exams
  • Time Tracking System
  • Online record keeping
  • Admission to any AAMI-sponsored in-person Midwifery Skills Lab (taken during or within three years of enrollment)
  • An audio package of past conference recordings
  • Discounts on additional recordings
  • Student discount coupon for Midwifery Today magazine
  • Plus: Staff support, access to online student groups, and our exclusive membership area!
  • Free access to our online Quiz course
  • Option to take our Midwifery Exploration course any time during your enrollment at no additional cost
  • Truth Teller’s Conference Calls

In addition to becoming expert on almost every imaginable topic concerning birth, including a minimum of two areas of specific expertise, our students learn to:

  •  Identify learning objectives
  •  Develop value-specific study strategies
  •  Read critically and objectively
  •  Locate available resources and experts
  •  Initiate relationships with mentors
  •  File information so that it is retrievable and revisable
  •  Judge academic suppositions and midwifery traditions against the science of physiology and birth
  •  Cultivate consistent study habits
  •  Organize data for multiple purposes
  •  Set immediate and long-term goals and execute a plan for achieving them
  •  Prioritize multiple tasks
  •  Determine what information necessitates memorization and what information can be filed
  •  Create a customized encyclopedic resource
  •  Conduct independent research
  •  Challenge medical and obstetrical and midwifery protocol
  •  Distinguish fact from opinion
  •  Evaluate data for academic integrity
  •  Document and appropriately credit all sources
  •  Establish review habits
  •  Develop test-taking skills
  •  Practice meticulous record-keeping
  •  Develop confidence in her ability to handle complications and emergencies
  •  Plan and organize for optimal time and resource management
  •  Integrate “head” knowledge with “hands on” experience
  •  Hone critical thinking and decision making ability
  •  Translate life experiences into the learning process
  •  Fine-tune communication and teaching skills
  •  Assess needs of individual clients
  •  Prepare on every level for any possible birthing scenario
  •  Explore related areas of interest toward development of specialties
  •  Establish counseling guidelines and parameters of responsibility
  •  Organize support for parents’ rights
  •  Encourage and assist parents in research and evaluation
  •  Inspire confidence in birthing couples as competent decision-makers
  •  Develop a comprehensive practice (service) plan
  •  Create and publish original educational material for parents
  •  Assess and improve community resources
  •  Navigate the politics of midwifery
  •  Investigate alternatives to reliance on technology
  •  Stay current with developments and trends in women’s health
  •  Encourage the pursuit of health and wellness in her family, friends, and clients
  •  Prepare for the business aspects of an independent midwifery practice (service)
  •  Create community identity as home birth advocate
  •  Exercise an extreme degree of accountability and professional integrity
  •  Research and honor the historical legacy of midwifery
  •  Create a plan for nurturing and apprenticing future midwives
  •  Validate and support a woman’s right to choose her own birth attendant, or no birth attendant
  •  Assist parents in assuming authority over their birth while relegating everyone else as consultant
  •  Respect the innate knowledge and wisdom of the birthing baby and mother
  •  Disengage ego and avoid any presumption of  authority over a birthing woman
  •  Articulate and promote the “with woman” midwifery philosophy

The curriculum is divided
into six sections
…each with specific objectives
…received as a whole
…may be submitted in any order.

Section 1
introduces the student to the terminology requisite of an in-depth study of midwifery. Enrollees find dozens of ‘new’ words among the 425 listed. (150 definitions required; many add hundreds more to their data base.) Completion of this section will familiarize the student with related obstetric and medical terminology, increase comprehension, facilitate research skills, and improve reading speed of technical data. Assignments from a terminology textbook or a college level terminology course are also required.
Section 2
is designed to familiarize the student with available resources, encourage careful note-taking and documentation, emphasize the importance of critical reading and comparison of information, and increase awareness of available reading material and its value for expectant parents. Requirements are met by keeping a detailed reading record, writing an abstract, completing 8 evaluation forms, writing 2 critiques, 1 textbook overview, and evaluating conference tapes and videos.
Section 3
is the supplemental studies section. Among the choices are documentation of a degree or certification in a related discipline, college level anatomy/physiology classes attending a Midwifery Skills Lab or completion of a designated Intensive Study Module.
Section 4
is designed to increase technical knowledge. Careful reading and comparison of material from two required texts is emphasized as the student is encouraged to challenge ‘facts’ or opinions and reference other sources.
Section 5
requires 50 files for research; 15 Research Files (not ‘papers’) must be submitted. An audit of other files is conducted by telephone. In addition to enhancing research skills, and greatly increasing knowledge in specific areas, this section will help illuminate areas of weakness and special interest for each student. The student will also learn to create a compendium of information on any topic which can later be used to provide material for articles or information sheets.
Section 6
is a more eclectic section: 185 assignments, including worksheets, diagrams and projects. This section is designed to fill in the gaps, increase comprehension of difficult concepts, review important points, solidify knowledge, identify specific problems inherent to the practice of midwifery and recognition of the needs of the childbearing community. Work in this section will also provoke consideration of related issues and their relevance to a midwifery practice, encourage community service, and the promotion of midwifery (public relations). Basic business practices are covered. The curriculum also provides ideas for enhancing working relationships with clients and peers. Section 6 assignments encourage aggressive investigation of resources and inspire further study in areas of interest. A curriculum vitae or résumé must also be submitted (we include detailed instructions). Before graduation each student must pass the Midwifery Scholastic Achievement Test, a proctored test written by our graduates, an oral exam, an online terminology exam and a topical exam based on the student’s specialties. The final requirement is to review and prepare for the Advanced Midwifery Studies Certification Exam by completing a personal assessment checklist.