In 2015, Jill became a licensed certified professional midwife (CPM) — though practice privileges of CPMs vary by state
Before being rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section after discovering her baby was breech, Joy-Anna Duggar was in labor for 20 hours at home — and her older sister Jill, who has trained in midwifery, was right by her side.
On Monday, TLC aired a one-hour Counting On special chronicling Joy-Anna’s journey to becoming a first-time mom. The 20-year-old welcomed her first child with husband Austin Forsyth on Feb. 23: a healthy baby boy named Gideon Martyn Forsyth.
Joy-Anna, who was originally set on a home birth, was joined by a handful of family members when she went into labor. In addition to Jill, 26, her mom Michelle and mother-in-law Roxanne were also on hand.
Though it’s unclear to what extent Jill was there in an official midwife capacity, she was featured checking on the baby’s heart rate and Joy-Anna’s vitals in the special. Here’s a look back at her midwifery training.
Jill, who shares two children of her own with husband Derick Dillard, chronicled her midwifery training on the family’s since-canceled TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting. A 2013 clip from the series reported that Jill had spent the last two years training as a midwife, gathering over 3,000 hours under her belt.
“This is hands-on apprenticeship style,” she said. “So we are really getting in there and getting to experience what the midwifery and doula roles look like, hands-on.”
In the clip, the midwife Jill was training under raved about the TLC star, calling her “amazing.”
“From the very first time that I had [Jill] in a birth room, she just soaked everything up,” she said. “I told her at that point that I wasn’t going to let her go — she had to be a midwife!”
Sister Jana, 28, also trained with Jill, though she admitted her goals were “a little different.”
“I am gaining the skills, but not necessarily wanting to be in charge of the entire situation,” she said at the time. “It kind of scares me a little. I would rather just be on the sidelines!”
Jill went on to help deliver quite a few babies in her native Arkansas. In a 2013 blog post for TLC.com, she opened up about how she first got involved in the profession, revealing that it started after she attended childbirth classes with her 14-year-old friend, who was a single mom.
“Through these classes, I learned how to coach her during the birth of her child,” she wrote. “Although I had attended two of my siblings’ births, being able to work as an active part of my friend’s birth made me interested in learning more. I became friends with a doula/labor coach who worked in the area, and started going to home and hospital births with her. Soon, I became her assistant, and through that, I came into contact with other local midwives. Over the course of the next several years, these midwives would call on me periodically for help at home births.”
Eventually, Jill entered into a distance-learning midwifery training program in Texas with the goal of becoming a licensed certified professional midwife (CPM).
“Midwifery care allows for a mother to have more specific, personalized care, and to choose the options that are best for the particular needs of her pregnancy and family,” she wrote. “After all, mother knows best, and midwifery care allows moms to make their own choices. Midwives provide routine prenatal care throughout pregnancy, with an emphasis on flexibility and individualization, as well as labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Through spending all that time together, a relationship is formed, and there is mutual trust and respect between midwife and mom.”
“Each birth is incredibly unique and special, and I learn something new at every one of them,” she continued. “Not everything is peaches and cream, and some days are hard, but I have been blessed to work with a great group of ladies. … The main goal of our practice as home birth midwives is to make sure that both momma and baby are healthy. Sometimes that happens in the home, and sometimes it happens at the hospital, but wherever we are, we pray for the best possible outcome for the people we serve.”
Duggar matriarch Michelle, 51, also opened up about her daughters’ midwifery training and aspirations on the family show.
“Jana and Jill are getting a lot of opportunities to deliver babies, and that is a joy for them,” she said in a 2014 clip. “I think just getting to help mommas as they are bringing life into the world and getting to see their baby for the first time is just such a joyful thing. It’s going great for them. They’re learning a lot.”
Michelle revealed that sometimes, Jill and Jana would be gone for “days at a time” with a mother in labor.
“I think they’re enjoying learning all the skills that they’re learning about birth,” she said. “Jill is really going after the midwifery side of that, whereas Jana is really enjoying being a doula and just being a servant and assisting the mom while she’s in labor — kind of being that labor coach and helping along with that. So it’s just neat to see each one has their different place that they like to be in the birth process!”
“It’s official; my wife is a midwife!” he wrote. “As of Wednesday, September 16, and after the 7-hour comprehensive exam for certified professional midwifes, she is now ‘Jill Dillard, CPM.’ I am so proud of her for her diligence, perseverance, and hard work to see this long road through to its end and reaching her goal of becoming a CPM.”
“The whole process, including various course work, lots of studying, tests, research, clinicals, sleepless nights with long labors, being on call for multiple births at a time, and the comprehensive test for full certification as a CPM, has finally culminated this week,” he continued. “This will be especially helpful on the mission field. The light at the end of the tunnel was always there, but we just hadn’t seen it until recently. And if anybody knows how much hard work it has been for her, it’s me. Jill has been very disciplined and sacrificed a lot to get to this point. So much so, that I don’t have the capacity within this brief blog post to give all the details to do it justice.”
A certified professional midwife (CPM) is a professional independent midwife certified by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). CPMs are not required to hold a nursing or other credential and are not authorized to prescribe medication, but require knowledge and experience of out-of-hospital settings. The practice privileges of CPMs vary by state.