Verena Schmid

Verena Schmid

Originally from Switzerland, Verena Schmid moved to Florence in Italy when she was 18 years old. She initially trained and worked as a nurse for 10 years, before retraining as a midwife after starting her own family. Her first son was born in hospital when Verena was 26 and she also fostered a 6-year-old girl at that time.

After qualifying as a midwife, along with four of her colleagues, Verena decided to start attending home births. This was the first home birth practice in Italy. Two years later, Verena and some other midwives founded an organisation to continue promoting home birth in Italy. A year later, Verena had her own first home birth when she had her second daughter.

Over the next few years, while continuing to attend home births, Verena worked in a state-run family health centre and also taught antenatal classes. Then, in 1985, Verena started working independently and founded the organisation Il Marsupio (The Baby Carrier). Within a few months, she set up a centre in Florence (also called Il Marsupio) for women and couples who wanted to birth and raise their children naturally. The centre offered pregnancy care, antenatal classes and support intrapartum (including home birth care and/or support for women who wanted to have an active, conscious birth in a hospital or birthing centre), as well as postpartum care. The same year Verena took the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam so as to spend two months working with Dutch midwives.

At the age of 40, with many years of nursing and midwifery experience behind her, Verena started offering courses in the ‘art of midwifery’ at the Il Marsupio centre. These courses, which were designed for qualified midwives, provided a year of study and included various topics relevant to midwives, including birth preparation and female psychology. The centre regularly offered a range of short professional development courses.

From 1991-3 Verena again started studying herself, concentrating this time on Polarity Therapy and counselling. At the end of her course she founded the first specialist magazine for midwives in Italy, which was—and still is!—called Donna e Donna (Woman To Woman).

In 1996 Verena decided to set up a school to teach the art of midwifery— the Scuola Elementale di Arte Ostetrica. Founded with seven other experienced homebirth midwives from different parts of Italy, this was the first midwifery school in Europe run by midwives for midwives. From then on, Verena set up various national and international seminars and conferences, some of which have been taught by other tutors from other parts of Europe, North America or Mexico. At that point , Verena also started writing books...

Until the publication of Birth Pain: Explaining Sensations, Exploring Possibilities and Birth Pain: Power to Transform, Verena’s work was not readily available in English. In her writing Verena has focused mainly on physiological birth, both at home and in hospital settings, and labour pain. This book is hopefully the first of many available to English-speakers in Britain and America, and worldwide.

More recently, as well as continuing to write and teach, Verena has developed hospital-based courses for midwives, for continuing professional development. (These courses have been made available free-of-charge for individual midwives.) She has also campaigned for improvements in the law for both midwives and pregnant women in Italy, and continued her own studies—this time learning about ‘focusing’. (This psychotherapeutic term describes a way of paying attention unjudgementally to specific sensations in the body, i.e. to something which is directly experienced, but not yet articulated in words.) In the year 2000, Verena received the International Astrid Limburg Award for her commitment to promoting independent midwifery and normal, physiological birth in Italy. Since then, she has set up a website covering topics relating to pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, so as to help women make informed decisions, and she has written four other books. Also, in 2008 she launched the first international two-year year course in integrated physiology and salutogenesis. This certified course, which is taught in German, is intended for midwives who want to learn a more positive approach to providing continuous care during pregnancy, labour and birth and who want to teach this approach to other midwives.

Her books Birth Pain: Explaining Sensations, Exploring Possibilities and Birth Pain: Power to Transform are essential resources for anyone who wants to embrace the freedom of informed choice.