Philosophy of Education
Birth encompasses many realms.
For some, childbirth is a very physical event while for others it can be emotional, or psychological, mental,
political, sacred, even medical.
At The Matrona we understand these various approaches
and we believe the overarching reality, inclusive of all, is that birth is transformational.
We educate midwives and birthing caregivers to facilitate one of the most transformative events in a woman’s life.
The birth of a child, the creation of family.
We understand that birth is a largely non-linear experience that ebbs and flows according to the sensory experience of the mother.
To that end, we have created a curriculum that is both holistic and practical, teaching midwives to respond the needs of pregnant and birthing women with intelligence and intuition.
We share our curriculum here so you can appreciate the scope and depth of a Matrona midwifery education.
We also wish to address the growing concern that our current birthing practices are leading us toward a monoculture of birth.
Specifically, we are seeing the education of midwives moving more toward the medical/clinical model rather than the holistic/practical model.
We are aware of the suggestion that ALL midwives be clinically trained and we are concerned that women and families will no longer have access to caregivers with any
other approach or skill set.
The holistic/practical approach is well suited for most women and is designed to keep women within the realms of normal throughout pregnancy and birth.
We understand that the medical/clinical model is focused on high-risk concerns and we suggest that training all midwives in this model will create a singular monoculture of birth with the potential for all midwives to inadvertently become
high risk practitioners.
Now, more than ever,
we need Independent Midwives
who can facilitate the needs of a myriad of normal women looking for
safe and fulfilling birth experiences.
Families have a right to choice.
Mothers have the right to choose caregivers with a holistic approach who can facilitate normalcy, transformation and the deeper unfolding of bringing forth life.
We can engender the inclusion of all types of midwives…
holistically educated and medically trained, clinical midwives and practical midwives, traditional and spiritual…
and in any combination.
There is a place for every midwife.
We believe that a culture of birth that truly respects women and understands the deeper experience of birth will strive to include all midwives in today’s choices.
Our curriculum is based on the time-honored paradigm of natural woman’s health that engages the innate wisdom and intelligence of the body.
We use the Wise Woman Tradition (as articulated by Susun Weed) as a holistic and practical means of addressing care.
The study of anatomy and physiology is key as are the wisdom arts of communication, collaboration and depth of relationship.
We believe that the modern holistic midwife should also have knowledge and experience with the general range of clinical skills used in prenatal, birth and postpartum care.
We do not suggest using any specific clinical skills routinely, if at all.
The experience of the holistic/practical model offers a woman and caregiver collaboration to deem what skills are appropriate and desirable.
Also, key in our approach to birth is the understanding that the childbirth continuum permits access to deeper states of consciousness.
For example, in the childbirth experience the conscious mind steps back and allows the rest of the self to take over. A woman often naturally focuses her attention, not with the eyes, but through a soft focus field. The sensory data that she now receives is routed through the hippocampal region of the brain where it will be processed at a deeper level of meaning. She looks through the lens of feeling and knowing, where her instinctual responses are more expanded than when she is seeing through her eyes in the state of ordinary reality.
Our program and curriculum prepares midwives to engender this deeper aspect of childbirth with women and families; supporting this natural process and not disturbing or rerouting a woman from her instinctual and intuitive responses to her pregnancy or labor.
All women have instinctual and intuitive responses.
And, these responses can be nurtured and enhanced by all caregivers.
We feel it is important to make our priorities one of keeping open more than a single clinical/medical approach to the education of caregivers.
Again, women have a right to choose from a range of caregivers with different approaches, different styles and different modes of education.
Perhaps, we don’t need more studies, more government grants,nmore experts working to solve the concerns that face us. Perhaps, we just need more of us working together to include each other and all options for childbearing women.
The Tao of Midwifery
And so, the Midwife performs
her work by doing nothing.
She teaches without speaking a word.
Things arise and she lets them come.
Things leave and she lets them go.
Creating, not possessing,
Working and laying no claim,
And when her work is done, she forgets it,
And so it lasts forever.
…From the Tao de Ching
At The Matrona we identify three distinct
Categories of Knowledge for beginning entry
in Traditional/Independent Midwifery:
Category I — Subjects, terms, skills and theories with which you have absolute familiarity and beginning level proficiency. This includes topics such as how to recognize and handle a postpartum hemorrhage, how to recognize and resuscitate the asphyxiated newborn, how to nurture the pregnant mom, how to recognize and handle an IUGR baby, how to auscultate and interpret FHTs…
Category II – Subjects, terms, skills and theories, which are quite familiar to you but which you may need to refresh or research further. This includes Rh sensitization, recognizing and providing homeopathic treatment of hypothyroidism, delivery of twins, remedies for diabetes…
Category III – Subjects terms, skills and theories for which you have a point of reference but need to research for complete information. These areas of information are used infrequently and, at this point, require a passing knowledge and understanding. This includes the glomerular filtration rate of the kidneys, various medical values for blood work and testing, the names of the muscles in the body…
Our courses unfold in the following areas:
Professional Standards, Knowledge and Skills
Anatomy and Physiology
Pregnancy and Prenatal Care
Labor and Birth
Postpartum and the Newborn
Homeopathy and Healing Modalities
Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping
Wisdom Arts and Eldership
Matrona Categories of Knowledge for
Entry in Holistic Midwifery
- How to nurture and care take yourself and/or another. This includes active listening skills, the ability to suspend judgment, the ability to respond appropriately in the area of details and in the big picture, the ability to interpret information correctly and a sense of compassion and genuine caring. The ability to nurture implies the ability to feed the spirit and soul, the mind, heart and body of another or yourself.
- Strive to move everything through the ancient, time-honored tradition of women’s health and the innate intelligence of the body following the matrix of the Wise Woman Tradition, as articulated by Susun Weed. The WWT encompasses 7 steps that are holistic, practical and clinical when appropriate.
1. Do Nothing
2. Gather Information
3. Work with the energy
4. Nourish and Tone
5. Stimulate & Sedate
6. Use Biomeds or other ‘medicines’ of this stature at a heroic level
7. Break & Enter
- Have a thorough understanding of the Wise Woman Tradition and the ability to use the theories and skills to approach any concern – physical, emotional, mental or spiritual and to see the WWT as a dynamic web of healing potential.
- A working knowledge of the quantum paradigm, the holistic paradigm and the differences between the humanistic and mechanistic paradigms; the ability to practice in the quantum and holistic paradigms.
- A comfortable relationship with the altered state and with the realms of expanded consciousness.
- A basic relationship with the skills and tools of intuition and the ability to incorporate these skills into everyday life and practice.
- An understanding of how to offer time, energy and attention.
- The ability to understand the principles of woundology and the far-reaching consequences of re-creating wounded patterns in our lives and in the birthing continuum.
- An understanding of why and how to create soul-level connections with others.
- An understanding of the difference between ideas and ideologies and the means to articulate this difference.
- Recognition of the Caregivers Spiral and how to integrate with the care giving community, in collaborative behavior without loosing professional autonomy.
- The ability to differentiate between laws and the Standard of Care within communities, and to adequately explain the parameters of informed choice/consent and the right to set self-determination.
- The ability to inform parents of the legal, political and cultural guidelines regarding childbirth in the communities you both live within.
- A working knowledge of homeopathy and the ability to offer beginning-level prescribing for emergencies – not just childbirth-related situations; an understanding of the theory and importance of miasms and their treatment; the importance of constitutional and fundamental treatment of the pregnant mother; the ability to use appropriate beginner-level homeopathy in all walks of life.
- A working knowledge of herbs, especially the specific herbs for the childbearing cycle; an understanding of the various classifications of herbs – nutritive, toning, specific, potentially toxic; an understanding of how to make and use teas and tinctures for beginning-level treatment of everyday ailments.
- The ability to understand and use medical vocabulary eloquently and appropriately, as it applies to anatomy and physiology and specifically the areas of childbearing and well woman care.
- An understanding of the language of anatomy – anatomical positions and directional terms, body cavities and body quadrants.
- An understanding of the meaning and concepts of homeostasis and homeodynamics.
- A knowledge of all the organs of the body, what system they belong to and where they are located.
- A basic knowledge of the endocrine system and the glands of the body – where they are located, what hormones they secrete, and what each hormone is responsible for.
- A basic understanding of the cardiovascular system including the path of blood flow through the heart, basic knowledge of veins and arteries, the components of blood, diagnostic blood tests for the childbearing cycle and the physiology of circulation including blood pressure.
- A basic understanding of the function of the lymphatic system and the
major lymphatic organs in the body.
- A basic and simple understanding of the immune system including the basic premise of the immune response and the components of the non-specific immune system.
- A basic understanding of the respiratory system including the anatomy of the respiratory tract; the mechanics of breathing and the principles of oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer.
- A basic understanding of the functions of the digestive system including functional anatomy and the physiology of digestion and absorption.
- An understanding of physical nutrition including the process of metabolism and the essential nutrients – carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.
- A basic understanding of the fluid balance of the body, the electrolyte balance in the body and the pH balance in the body. An understanding of acidosis – how to prevent, recognize and correct this concern in mother and/or baby.
- A basic understanding of the urinary system including functional anatomy and the physiology of urine formation and filtration.
- A working knowledge of the female reproductive system including the female anatomy, both internal and external – ovaries, uterus, ducts and yoni; recognition of external genitalia. A working knowledge of female physiology including the ovarian cycle and the menstrual cycle. A working understanding of the basic female hormones – especially estrogen and progesterone, as well as FSH and LH, and their effect on the female cycles.
- A working knowledge of vaginal ecology and STI’s including syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, Chlamydia and Candida – cause, recognition, prevention and treatment.
- A basic knowledge of the physical changes that occur at puberty, with fertility, and in menopause.
- The study of well-woman care.
- A working knowledge of pregnancy and human development from the anatomy and physiology point of view including fertilization, basic embryonic development, and basic fetal development. This information to be continued in detail in the pregnancy, birth postpartum sections.
- A basic understanding of the male reproductive system including functional anatomy and male physiology.
- An understanding of how physiology informs the functioning of the childbearing continuum.
- The signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
- How to identify and counsel for any pre-existing conditions that may influence pregnancy.
- Understanding normal uterine and fetal development in each trimester of pregnancy.
- Relevant prenatal testing – what tests are available, what they are for and when they are advised. This includes blood work and urine analysis – hematocrit/hemoglobin testing, a CBC, blood type and Rh testing, Rubella titer, antibody titers for Rh negative moms, STI testing, AIDS testing, genetic screenings and tests, the GCT/OGTT, ultrasound testing, amniocentesis, urinalysis, Group-Beta Step testing and a BPP for the assessment of fetal well being.
- How to take a client history and begin prenatal record keeping.
- How to determine the EDB, with and without the wheel.
- How to understand and assess the implications of teratogenic exposures during the childbearing continuum.
- How to conduct an initial prenatal visit including mental, emotional and physical assessment. How to continue to thoroughly provide prenatal visits, including accurate note and charting techniques/options.
- How to obtain a clean catch of urine.
- How to check urine with a dipstick and how to interpret results for twelve different findings.
- How to perform a yoni exam including exam of the external genitalia, the cervix, perineum and yoni.
- How to perform pelvimetry.
- Offer women wisdom around the endocrine system, and its direct relation to breast health.
- How to abdominally palpate the uterus, how to evaluate the size and position of the fetus, how to measure fundal height.
- How to recognize a posterior, breech, multiple pregnancy and other variations of position.
- How to assess the volume of amniotic fluid and recognize and care for a mom with poly and/or oligohydramnios.
- How to auscultate FHTs with a fetoscope and a doppler.
- How to interpret FHT patterns and act accordingly to any variations of normal.
- How to take blood pressure, temperature and pulses and to assess respirations.
- How to assess for edema, clonus and CVAT and to understand the relevance of these assessments.
- How to assess the well being of the growing fetus through fetal activity testing, including how to perform in-home version of an NST.
- How to recognize and care for an IUGR baby.
- How to recognize and deal with preterm labor, ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa and an abrupted placenta.
- How to differentiate the cause of prenatal bleeding and how to offer subsequent care.
- How to recognize an impending miscarriage and how to care for the mom who is miscarrying.
- How to recognize and treat discomforts of pregnancy – using the Wise Woman Tradition. Including the use of herbs, homeopathy, acupressure and other natural modalities.
- How to recognize and treat a UTI, pre-eclampsia, anemia, an STI, hypertension and PIH, a molar pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy, premature rupture of membranes and prolonged rupture of membranes.
- How to recognize, prevent and change a posterior presentation to a more favorable anterior presentation.
- A basic understanding of the version process for breech baby.An understanding of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia and how to respond and treat in the Quantum paradigm.
- How to check blood type and Rh with an Eldon blood card.
- How to recognize and treat stress in the pregnant family.
- How to create a rite of passage for the pregnant family through childbirth education, a Blessingway and/or other special events for the pregnant family or mother.
- How to help prepare other children or family members for the birth and the new baby.
- How to inspire women to empower themselves and their families.
- The principles of Birth as an Altered State and the mothers need for privacy, warmth, dark, silence and safety, and nourishment both physically and psychologically.
- The understanding of Undisturbed Birth and the ramifications of returning birth to the family.
- A thorough understanding of the Holistic Stages of Labor with the clinical model.
- An understanding of how the cardinal movements of labor correspond to the Holistic Stages of Labor.
- The mechanism of labor and birth – physically and psychically including the Holistic Stages of Labor, the relevance of cervical dilation, the descent, flexion and rotation of the baby and the emotional and physical signs of labor progressing.
- A complete understanding of both stages of 2nd stage of labor (latent and active) and the work of Constance Beynon.
- How to assess contractions, cervical dilation, rupture of membranes, changes in maternal vital signs, rupture of membranes, and meconium staining.
- How to assess and interpret FHT patterns in labor and how to respond to any abnormal or unreassuring patterns.
- How to respond to meconium staining.
- How to assess dilation on the mother’s foot and use other non-invasive means to assess the progress of labor.
- How to provide basic comfort measures for the laboring mom.
- How to facilitate a mother who chooses to birth in various positions.
- How to facilitate a mother who chooses waterbirth.
- How to work with and resolve posterior presentation in labor.
- How to recognize, prevent and treat a cervical lip in labor.
- How to manually assist the delivery of the baby including nuchal cord, nuchal arm, shoulder dystocia, unusual presentation, and perineal support.
- How to administer oxygen to the mother in labor and the reasons to do so.
- How to apply the tenets of the Wise Woman Tradition to the unfolding of a sacred birth.
- How to ‘do nothing’, how to work with the energy, nourish and tone, stimulate and/or sedate, use potent specifics and/or break and enter when necessary.
- How to maintain the scene.
- How to manage your energy when a mother/family chooses something outside of predicted expectations, and how to support them in their choices.
- How to recognize and facilitate an emergency situation in mother and/or baby. Including abnormal bleeding, altered vital signs and non-reassuring FHT’s.
- Understand the need for transport and the ability to facilitate a smooth, fulfilling and safe transition between birthing sites if necessary.
- An understanding of the medical technologies used in a clinical setting.
- How to use herbs, homeopathics and other natural means to facilitate the course of labor in the most empowering way possible.
- Immediate postpartum assessment including assessment of placental separation and bleeding.
- Ability to understand the physical, hormonal and psychological process of placental separation and subsequent birth of the placenta.
- Understanding that the placenta expulsion is a ‘birth’ in and or itself.
- The ability to allow this process to unfold in an undisturbed way.
- Understand the importance of Matrescence or ‘mother making’ and how each stage of birth (baby and placenta) and bonding (breastfeeding) completes an aspect of this process.
- Ability to obtain a cord blood sample and understanding the reasons why.
- Ability to facilitate delivery of the placenta including manual removal if necessary.
- Ability to prevent, recognize and control a postpartum hemorrhage including the appropriate use of homeopathics, herbs, bimanual compression and any and all other means at your disposal.
- Ability to assess the placenta and create placenta medicine for the mom.
- Ability to assess perineal lacerations and offer appropriate treatment.
- Ability to help the mom initiate breastfeeding and share relevant information about her breasts, her infant and the process.
- Understanding of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin and their importance in birth and breastfeeding.
- Understanding of uterine involution during the first days of postpartum.
- Ability to provide excellent postpartum care for the next six weeks including aid with after pains, recognition of a late postpartum hemorrhage, understanding signs and symptoms of infection, recognizing problems with breastfeeding, hemorrhoids, stress, thromboemboletic disease, concerns from loss of sleep and concerns with infant bonding.
- Recognizing signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and offering appropriate support and prevention in the Quantum paradigm.
- Ability to assess lacerations according to REEDAT.
- Understanding The Return and why it is inappropriate to handle, manage, or pick up a newborn infant during this stage. Recognizing the physiology that undergirds this process and not disturbing the newborn.
- The ability to understand why the mother should never be disturbed during her Return in the immediate postpartum and the ability to offer undisturbed postpartum care.
- The ability to continue to guard and protect the new family during the time that the vortex is still open.
- The ability to nurture the mom and new family by helping her/them weave their birth experience with integrity and honesty.
- The ability to help families find resources and support during the postpartum.
- The ability to care for a mother with a disappointing outcome…a transport, a C-section or an unhealthy baby.
- Immediate assessment and care of the newborn at birth.
- Understanding of the cardiac changes that occur during the transition to neonatal life including the temporary structures in the fetal heart.
- Understanding the respiratory changes that occur in the newborn’s initiation of breathing
- Ability to assess respiratory and cardiac function in the newborn.
- Ability to administer oxygen after delivery.
- Ability to recognize and manage asphyxia in the newborn including the use of homeopathic, herbs, acupressure and NNR techniques.
- Ability to assess APGAR scores, gestational age, neurological maturity and function, including reflexes.
- Ability to clamp and cut the cord and/or the ability to offer lotus birth. Ability to assess the cord during the postpartum, recognizing signs and symptoms of infection. Ability to prevent and treat infection of the cord.
- Understanding of why the cord is never cut immediately after birth.
- Ability to recognize normal and abnormal breathing patterns in the neonate. Assessment of RDS and signs and symptoms of infection.
- Ability to recognize and offer appropriate treatment and/or referral or transport for any neonate who is ill or suffers from any concern beyond the usual variations of normal.
- Ability to perform the newborn exam (or assist the parents in doing so), recognizing the characteristics of the normal newborn and document the pregnancy, labor, birth and initial exam of the infant.
- Understanding or typical biotechnical newborn screening and treatment.
- Understanding the reasoning behind eye care prophylaxis, vitamin K administration, circumcision, and immunization. Assisting families in navigating choice concerning these topics.
- Ability to assess breastfeeding in the infant, both at the birth and afterward.
- Ability to offer eye care to the infant. Ability to recognize plugged tear duct and differentiate from infection.
- Understanding of the infants need for temperature regulation, feeding and bonding during the neonatal period. Understanding the parent’s need for education and information about their newborn and the ability to provide guidance when necessary.
- Ability to use herbs and homeopathics for concerns in the newborn.
- Ability to recognize and treat jaundice in the newborn. Ability to assess the severity of the jaundice and discover the cause.
- Ability to assess continuing neonatal well-being in the areas of growth and development.
- Ability to give supportive information about breast and bottle feeding and supporting a woman’s choice.
- The ability to see and think in the larger dimensions, to ask effective questions and to find the appropriate answers.
- The ability to believe in the unity of all things – including each other.
- The ability to understand that midwifery is about facilitating birth, not about facilitating midwives.
- The ability to resolve conflict through collaborative means.
- The ability to access bravery and commit random and deliberate acts of courage during your life and practice.
- The ability to meet people where they are at, to understand everything on the planet and to actively listen to others.
- The ability to recognize and heal your wounds.
- The ability to understand the concepts of rank and to use power and privilege wisely.
- The ability to be with woman and not need woman to be with midwife.
- The ability to grasp the notion of the paradox and to intend to be comfortable at the edge of your comfort zone.
- The ability to respond in a place of neutrality and suspend judgment.
- The understanding of the basic skills of Conflict Resolution and how to implement them.
- The understanding of the tenets of Eldership and how they pertain to midwifery.
- An understanding and appreciation of Sexual Wisdom and Sexuality as a path to the divine.
- The ability to trust parents, birth and yourself and to place authority in the appropriate hands. You honestly believe that birth is natural event, a rite of passage rather than a medical event even if medical care is involved in the process. You trust that parents are the true experts about their bodies and their births and that your work as a midwife is to inspire families to create and experience what is welcomed and destined for them.
- You believe that you are a competent, confident, compassionate and caring midwife. You are confident enough to trust birth and parents and return authority to them. You are competent enough to know that when and if others need you, you will be able to provide appropriate and relevant information and function with a level of skill that reflects the wisdom of their judgment in choosing you to serve their needs. You will respond intelligently and effectively. You have the ability to respond with compassion, being totally in the present, suspending prior judgments, and putting yourself in the place of the birthing family while remaining always in the big picture. As a caring midwife you serve as the bridge between the sacred and the mundane.