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These Hands


This story was published in February 2015 on Narratively.

At the Birthwise Midwifery School in Bridgton, Maine, the eleven first year students know each other in intimate ways. A speculum–a gynecological tool used during pelvic exams–is essential to the course materials, and each student offers her body as a practicing ground for pelvic exams and live anatomy lessons. The trust these eleven women have built will enable them to move forward in their studies and careers as midwives.


A midwife is a confidant. She is a facilitator and guide to mothers of all backgrounds and continuums of experience. It is a field that relies on building strong relationships in a short amount of time.  



“Everyone sort of peels open and we share ourselves. It kind of is the best way to bond, without resistance."

 –Audrey Waddell, first year student


The first year students describe their bond with one another as a sisterhood.

The Birthwise Midwifery School was founded in 1994 in a former residential home. The school sits atop a hill in Bridgton, Maine.

Brittany Roussel puts the finishing touches on her work before returning to class.

Kelsey Scherer practices checking Hannah Neumann’s thyroid the night before a physical exam.

Susan Rowland sits next to Audrey Waddell in the living room at Birthwise. The space is used for lunch gatherings and as a quiet space to study.


​“Studying to be a midwife is much like giving birth.  You entrust yourself totally to these women you don’t really know.”


 –Susan Rowland, first year student


Mollie Whipple and Jahan Zuberi eat lunch on the porch of the Birthwise Midwifery School.

“My bond comes from being able to share my life, mind, and body knowing I’m fully embraced and supported as I come, without fear of judgment or rejection.”


–Brittany Roussel, first year student


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