Taking Back Birth

A Midwife By the Numbers or a Midwife of the Heart: My Journey Through Apprenticeship and Beyond

May 4, 2016

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit. With 12 children and 20 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.


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In this episode of Taking Back Birth, I talk about my own journey through apprenticeship… from being a midwife by the numbers to becoming a midwife of the heart.

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  1. With Held says:

    Thank you for a wonderful telling of your story thus far! Unfortunately, I am in an area that is rich in ‘elder’ and experienced midwives, but they are NOT interested in teaching, the best way to describe what they seem to want is ‘worship’. They have, time and time and time again made it clear that THEY are the Elder, The Wise, The Queen Midwives and who the hell do you think you are to think for yourself? Tote my bags, Birth Sherpa, sit at my feet and worship. I will tell you when you speak. And this is how they treat grown-ass women! Some who (like me) are their age!(no age is it justified)

    I even had one say, when I asked why she became a midwife, “I guess for the prestige.” Holy freakin’ cow.

    Because of this I was ‘forced’ to travel the country to ‘get my numbers’. Because, right now the way it is—NO it is not about ‘the numbers’ but you DO have to HAVE numbers IF you want to get your CPM–those of us wanting to serve women in our communities, especially in states like mine that are not regulated etc-we are nothing as far as the State is concerned=we have little to no choices. So, I am ‘done’ with numbers and ready to sit for The Test. Yes, I am already taking clients, but in the manner you describe: I am with them, in their community, in their lives.
    Keep it up, Maryn!

  2. Maryn Green says:

    I appreciate your comment! We all have such varied experiences. As you know, those “sort” of elders has not been my experience but I have certainly heard that that can be the case. As hard as it may be, midwives of the younger (not elder) generation are having to choose between that old and the New paradigm. I believe this means forging a different path, as best we can, keeping what served us but discarding the rest. Take what resonates with you and share it!
    As for the numbers, yes, I do understand and I am still a CPM as I shared. I do not support regulation or licensing however and believe there IS another way to do things, staying heart centered, wise, skilled and with integrity.

  3. Wonderful! Many years ago my wife and I had an unassisted birth on an uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean (see “Island Born” by Frank Burnaby). We wholeheartedly believed that birth is a process that can not only be trusted, but that can empower and bond a family, serving an important developmental role in experiencing ourselves as human beings.

  4. Ginger Cullen says:


    Thank you for this podcast, i thoroughly enjoyed it. What is your recommended route to become a midwife? I lean away from the nurse midwife route, i was planning on attending a high birth birth center program but after hearing your take am leaning against that as well. I am in WA if that helps.

  5. Maryn Green says:

    Hey Ginger!
    Thanks for your support; it is really encouraging to hear of people like you being so thoughtful in their approach to this complicated subject. Feel free to email me, I’d love to hear from you. Love, Maryn

  6. Amanda says:

    This is just what I needed at just the right time. I have felt this “calling” but I keep telling myself it’s not the right time in my life to follow it and making excuses. But hearing this last night reminded me it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I can start now and follow my heart and don’t have to be ‘full-time” or worry about the numbers. If I really want to make this life shift, I can simply start now, by setting my intentions and heart in that direction. Thank you! Sending love and thankfulness – Amanda

  7. Maryn Green says:

    Yes, Amanda! It is a lot harder sometimes to create our own path, rather than follow the pre determined one. Courage and wisdom to you!

  8. Amanda says:

    I listened to this last night. The right words at the right time for my heart. I have been ignoring “the call” I feel to this world because it’s “not the right time” and making other silly excuses, when in reality, I don’t have to change my path overnight. Just because I can’t do this “full-time” or attend X amount of classes/discussions/hours/births doesn’t mean I can explore and let my heart lead the way. Thank you, thank you. Sending love and gratefulness.

  9. Tara says:

    Thank you Maryn, you are speaking my heart, telling my story and validating my experience here.

  10. Tierra Salmon says:

    I am really loving this. My apprenticeship fell into my lap as well. The apprenticeship model for learning was really attractive to me because of the fluidity that it would create, and it just feels like the right way. I am a really good auditory and kinesthetic learner so learning through the type of apprenticeship model you talk about here just really made sense to me.

    However, I have felt a lot of pressure from my peers and elders to go to school. For me it is going less of an organic way but a way that will get me my piece of paper here where I can get my numbers and I plan on training under traditional midwives later. I have a great yearning for going to apprentice with Indigenous Midwives. I know I will not feel that my education is going to be as full and rich until I do that. My fathers family, who I identify most closely with culturally, is from Panama and Colombia. I dream of the day I can follow some Traditional Midwives either in Panama or Colombia or both. The paper is less important to me in a lot of ways than the experience I will have with Traditional Midwives.

    I love the way you define Midwife, how and when one becomes a midwife, the knowing what we are to know when we are to know it. Also, I am so checking out the Wise Woman Circle!!!

    This was really refreshing to listen to. I think there is a struggle as a student midwife who feels so called to Traditional Midwifery in a society that validates competence and worth on credentialing. Then to be a woman of color on top of that I often feel like my dreams, ideals and how I identify are so foreign to the community around me. This was really affirming to hear your journey and I appreciate you sharing all of it with us!

  11. Daniela says:

    Wow,, this podcasts made it’s way into my life at the perfect time. You see, I’m in the midst of figuring out my path through and to my midwifery calling. I’m graduating from my undergraduate program this May and it’s time to figure out what to do, right?  I set my mind on Bastyr University, sent in my application, and had already registered to take the remaining prerequisites for this summer. Well this week, I realized I wasn’t honoring my light and my heart. It was confusing because, well if midwifery is my calling, then going to the most “elite” school must be the best way to become a midwife. I keep asking myself, how can I best serve women? and it boiled down to, by honoring myself. This is how I can in turn best honor women. I fell in love with midwifery when I realized that the hollywood scenes were not the only way a birth happens; that birthing is not this medical emergency; that there is a way to birth with through and in love. So I made a revolutionary decision- at least in my personal life – to not go for the ‘sexy’ Masters of Science in Midwifery and stay at home – for now….-  and follow midwifery through a traditional pathway of apprenticeship. I’ve yet to establish that apprenticeship, and figure out which school I want to do distant learning through. But I know that right now, I’m honoring myself by choosing to honor normal, healthy, powerful damn right sacred creation and birthing. Mahalo Nui -Thank you ver much- for your podcast on this specific matter; for highlighting that midwives can be on a broad spectrum that includes a very medicalized approach with very little spirituality. Thank you for highlighting the numbers which I had been convinced I couldn’t pull of by living in Hawai’i. But now I’m like, SO? What if I see less birth and it takes way longer to become a CPM? Am I going to be any worse of a midwife someday ? Am I doing to be a better midwife if I go to a birthing center in Washington to learn ?? Hmm. Perhaps. But you mentioned something that particularly struck me, about women who lose their trust and love in the process of birthing because of the training they receive and the environment in which they practice. I was already loosing that trust in the process just by applying to this school. Sounds like an exaggeration at first but, my focus right now turned to taking chemistry, chemistry lab, microbiology, and college algebra. The highlights of this school were on I need to go to Bastyr so I can learn to administer pitocin, and now how to administer other drugs for hemorrhages, and see a lot of birth and learn as much and as quickly. No where in there was my focus on the spiritual health of the women I want to serve. Of course I could pursue Bastyr and make what I will of my personal practice, and that is why maybe some other day I will attend. But right now, I haven’t even witnessed a birth! I’m at such a beginning stage with this journey that I wanna lay down my foundation with the most loving devotion I can and follow my heart to support others in doing the same. Wfew,, I dogged that one! haha. Mahalo nui Sister for what you do, what you share, and for being you. Oh so much Love from Hawai’i Nei. 

  12. Daniela says:

    P.S: My Hatha yoga class theme tonight was heart openers (; 

  13. Daniela says:

    Sorry, last message. Could you please consider doing a podcast about placenta previa and other placenta variations. Why does it happen? How can you prevent it? Can you prevent it? Can you even try a physiological birth ? How high is the risk there? At what point is it 100% must do c-section or else have an incredibly high death increase?  Any holistic ways to address//prevent it ?? Okay, you’re spectacular. Mahalo. 

  14. Maryn Green says:

    So nice to hear how this touched you, Daniela!
    Best wishes and please do keep in touch!


  15. Brenda fogo says:

    Wow, this has been amazing!

  16. kate says:

    ahhhh. Thank you for this. I do hold a CPM, but am currently practicing in a context where midwifery is illegal. it is exhausting and heavy and lonely and, oh, this podcast made me take a deep breath and dance around my kitchen feeling the joy of “I am not alone!”. Thank you for this, from another midwife who also drives around and does exclusively home visits and spends the bulk of the time getting to know pregnant women. A few years ago, during a midwifery break following the birth of our third child, my oldest daughter said to me, “Mama, I think you should go catch some more babies now, so we can have some new friends.”

  17. Maryn Green says:

    Aw Kate, write me an email! I’d love to connect with you. You are not alone! We are not alone. Love, Maryn

  18. Rosalie says:

    Thank you SO much for this podcast… I have grown up around birth from the day I was born and feel it in my bones that it is natural to be a part of the birthing world. I have spent years going back and forth looking at different kinds of courses to take at home in New Zealand and abroad etc, and always coming to the conclusion that there is just something that does not feel right about learning this way, that there MUST be another way.. but feeling quite lost about how on earth that could possibly look within our western/modern society with all of it’s regulations and laws, and I generally ending up feeling a little hopeless. But even when I try to forget it, this feeling in my body and heart of knowing I want to be a part of this keeps coming back time and time again. Your podcast, writing and resource sharing has opened up a new world for me. A love this innate cannot be without purpose. Spirit will surely continue to guide! 🙂

    So many Blessings

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We are mamas and midwives who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are radical, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit to help move us all towards a new more beautiful world. With 12 children and over two decades of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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