Birthwise was founded in 1994 in a rented space in downtown Bridgton, Maine. The intention was to provide classes to apprentice midwives who wanted some structure and guidance for the theoretical component of their midwifery training.
We changed facilities in 1998, after Heidi Fillmore, founder of BIrthwise, purchased a beautiful 175 year-old brick colonial house just a few blocks away. It has a homey feeling, high ceilings, and a sense of history– we are sure there were many babies born in this house.
At about the same time, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) was creating a process of accreditation for direct-entry midwifery schools and provided the needed guidance in developing the Birthwise program further. It has since evolved into a comprehensive, three-year direct-entry midwifery program that attracts students from every region of the U.S., Canada, and other countries. Birthwise became pre-accredited by MEAC in 1999 and fully accredited in 2002. We became eligible to receive Federal Student Aid (Title IV funds) in 2002, and since 2004 have been able to accept international students.
In the summer of 2006, major renovations to our facility included an on-site freestanding birth center that is staffed by local midwives assisted by Birthwise students. Later that year we began conceptualizing a program that would accommodate students who could not relocate to Maine and launched our Community Program in 2008.
Our enrollment has been expanding and we currently have approximately 60 enrolled students at various stages of the two programs.