- We value the Biodynamic model of care. Over the years, we developed this model of caring for clients and families during the childbearing year and beyond. In the Biodynamic model, pregnancy, birth, and nursing are not only natural parts of human life, they are necessary parts, intimately connected with what it is to be human. The bio in Biodynamic reflects the centrality of biological processes, especially the impact of hormones such as oxytocin and stress hormones. Dynamic refers to the energy of relationships that ensures our model is very client-centered and individual. Biodynamic care offers the least amount of intervention while still protecting the well-being of mother and baby. Intervention takes on different meanings depending upon the type of care provider; therefore, each of our programs develops specific tools for the various types of services our students will be providing. All of our programs hold the Biodynamic Model as a foundation in training students to become skilled in providing thorough, safe, responsive, and sensitive care.
- We are relationship-based. The Birthingway community is formed by interactions between individuals, multiplied many times over. We support a model of power with and power within rather than the power over model that is so common in our world. We emphasize face-to-face interactions, compassionate communication skills, and personal responsibility. We value kindness and the highest standard of personal integrity as essential characteristics of all members of our community. We also recognize the responsibility we all hold to cultivate an evolving awareness of professional ethics and relationships between staff, students, faculty, and clients.
- We value non-violent communication (NVC). As Inbal Kashtan writes in Parenting from Your Heart, “at it’s heart, NVC is…about a set of principles and approaches to connect with ourselves and with others.” We believe that NVC is compatible with the Biodynamic Model of Care, as both are based on working with people by holding a space for them to develop their own knowledge, self-awareness, motivation, and power rather than judging them or their actions as good or bad. We also value that NVC has well-developed tools which make it easier to both learn and use.
- We avoid rewards and punishments and do not believe that one person can motivate another to learn. Birthingway’s goal is to set appropriate standards, and to encourage and support students as they meet those standards.
- We honor and encourage diversity and multi-vocality. After all, there are many kinds of childbearing clients in the world, so we need many kinds of providers. The crucial element is respect for other people’s opinions, beliefs, and practices. Respect allows room for disagreement through discussion and round-tabling, and allows insight into other ways of thinking and doing. This provides the basis for consensual action and mutual support both within the Birthingway community and on our individual paths as care providers and activists.
- We value collaborative rather than competitive learning. Students are encouraged to work together to acquire competency in the many required skills and knowledge sets. Rather than ranking students, we strive to help all students achieve excellence.
- We are a community learning together, teachers and students alike. While instructors have specialized knowledge and experiences to teach, students also have knowledge and experiences to share. We learn from each other. Because of this emphasis on learning, questions are always welcome at Birthingway and teachers are not expected to always have all of the answers. We believe that learning is a life-long process and that we all can learn best when knowledge is shared, including opportunities for continuing education for practitioners seeking additional learning.
- We value and encourage development of intuition, empiricism, and analytical thinking as equally vital components of the midwifery arts and sciences. We teach students to listen to their inner voice of insight and knowing, and to live in a spiritual way that is appropriate for them. Empirical knowledge is validated through an emphasis on storytelling, on learning from mistakes, and from hands-on experiences. Rigorous analytical skills are developed through differential diagnosis, critical analysis, problem-solving, case studies, and evidence-based practice. By balancing these three ways of knowing, we are able to bring many resources to our work.
- We believe that providers within the field of midwifery arts and sciences are also activists and change agents by nature of simply existing. As a community, we encourage engagement in activities related to public education and legislation regarding reproductive justice, access to resources, and informed choice.
- We believe that all practitioners should have a variety of healing resources available to them within the scope of their practice. Because our graduates practice in all areas of the United States and around the world, and because access to medical resources can be limited in all of these areas (due to legal status of the provider or the state of medical infrastructure), providers need accessible tools to support their clients’ well being. We emphasize plant medicine, homeopathy, massage, and movement because they are available to everyone.
Taken together, these principles produce an environment in which each member of the Birthingway community travel their own path towards excellence in their chosen vocation. Each of us serves as a beacon of hope toward a better way for birthing women and new families and thus a better world for all.
*(See Truth or Dare by Starhawk for information on power over, power with, and power within. The works of Alfie Kohn, especially Punished by Rewards, explore the ideas behind motivation, failure and rewards in education. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg describes NVC and its application in a variety of situations).