The Virtual Midwife was founded in 2009 by Karen Wilmot, successful online entrepeneur, author and sought after international speaker. Karen qualified as a professional Nurse and Midwife in 1990 in Durban, South Africa and subsequently trained as a Prenatal Yoga Instructor, Hypnotherapist and Hypnobirthing Practitioner.
A pioneer of change, Karen opened the first independant midwife led community practice in Muscat, Oman in 2009 which later became the first Mother and Baby Wellness Center in the Gulf region.
The Virtual Midwife strives to increase health information access using technology. The prevalence of information available online and the ability to reach millions of women at the touch of a button needs to be seen as a powerful tool of change.
She still works part time at a local midwife obstetric unit to keep her oxytocin levels up.
Every birth I have attended has changed me on some level and taught me something about the incredible wisdom of women and babies. I still practice, but I now attend mainly home birth where you have autonomy over your body and your choices.
We can not separate body, mind and breath. I was drawn to study yoga through my experience of working with women who practiced yoga and I saw the difference it made during labor and birth. I incorporate powerful breathing techniques into all my teachings.
I host regular workshops in the Middle East and South Africa. I believe that it is only through effective education and sharing of information that the landscape of birth will change so that all women will be given the freedom of choice based on evidence based practice.
International Conference Speaking Experience
1st Annual GCC Natural Birth & Breastfeeding Conference 2015, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates: Finding our WHY in Antenatal Education – the impact of informing and empowering women to restore normality to childbirth.
27 – 29 March 2016 Dubai , Obstetrics and Gynaecology Congress : Embracing technnology in Antenatal Education
16 October 2016 Inherent Birth Online Summit: The mother’s role in attaining better birth outcomes and Birthing the Maternal Bond.
March 2018 FIGT (Families in Global Transition) The Hague, Netherlands: Health Literacy for Global Living – using technolgy wisely to inform and empower women during pregnancy.
May 2018 Sensitive Midwifery Conference JHB: Technology and increased access to vast amounts of information online: enemy or ally?
Karen is on the organising committee of of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife annual 24hour conference.
My story – the birth of a midwife
I often feel as if I need to put a DISCLAIMER notice up because I am a midwife with no children of my own. In other words, I have not experienced pregnancy or childbirth myself, even though I have attended so many births and taught so many childbirth classes.
But it never started off this way.
I grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the youngest of 3 children in a busy household where my mother was a midwife and my early years were full of her stories of brave women and incredible births. Even back then the idea of birth filled me with awe and I knew that I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps.
I recall thinking about having babies from a very young age. I recall my mom finding me under the dining room table drinking milk (which I hated) and trying to breastfeed my doll. I could always be found visiting neighbours with babies, if there was a new baby in town, I would find it.
So there was no doubt in my mind that I would become a midwife and a mother. During my student years I was like a sponge soaking up everything I saw and learned. I marvelled at how although the physiology of birth was the same, every women responded differently. This fascinated me and I questioned every women afterwards about her experience, what she had done in preparation and how it felt.
I treated every women the way that I hoped and imagined I would want to be treated one day when it was finally my turn. I took everything they told me and stored it for future reference, I just kept learning, preparing and adding to my pregnancy and birth toolbox, never imagining that I would never get to use it.
I now know that I never will get to experience my own pregnancy, labor or birth and many women have questioned how I am able to be a “good midwife” without personal experience.
The only thing I can say is that I was and always will be a midwife. My learning began as a child, listening to the stories my mother told me and connecting with the joy and wonder of pregnancy and birth. It continued through my student years and into the work that I still do today. Surprisingly, it has made me the best version of myself as a midwife because I never stop listening and learning from mothers. It was working with women that allowed me to grieve and then later to heal. It opened me to possibilities that I might never had considered. So ultimately it is my gift, for even if I had my own experience, it would only be one more experience to add to the thousands that have shaped me and that allow me to guide you through your own unique and magical journey.