Tuesday 12 February 2013

NCT Birth Companion Service - I'm available for hire!

Part of the reason that my blogging is taking a slight back seat at the moment, is because I am currently training to become a Birth Companion with NCT and the University of Worcester.

Having trained as an NCT Antenatal teacher to educate people about birth, it's exciting that I will now be able to support women and their partner's during labour and birth, and help them to have the birth they are hoping for.

The course is one of the longest and most comprehensive of it's kind, and as part of my course, I have to find a woman, or couple to be a Birth Companion for, and so I thought I would tell you a bit about the service, in case you, or anyone you know is currently considering having a Doula or Birth Companion to support you through birth. There are NCT trained Birth Companions and student Birth Companions throughout the country.

I am specifically looking for a woman or couple based within an hours drive of me in Herts/Beds/Bucks to be a Birth Companion for. They must be due between mid February and Mid April or thereabouts this year, and I am able to offer my services for only £250. There are more details below, so please do take a look if you, or anyone you know many be interested.

Here is some more information on NCT Birth Companion's

What is the role of an NCT Birth Companion?
The role of an NCT Birth Companion is to support a woman, or a woman and her partner, during labour and birth. The role begins during pregnancy as I help women and their partners to consider what they want for their birth and to prepare for labour and the birth of their baby. During labour my role can include providing physical support, emotional support, practical help and encouragement or reassurance for them both. My role is also often about supporting the partner so that they can support the mother so that they both have the birth experience that they want. Additionally, the role may entail helping to explain what is happening during the birth or to remind couples of their options as things change. NCT Birth Companions are happy to support women wherever and however they are choosing to labour and birth their babies. We are not acting as midwives and do not replace them.

What is the difference between a Doula and a Birth Companion?
The term 'doula' was first introduced by a social anthropologist who borrowed it from the ancient Greeks. It has become an adopted term for a birth attendant. There is no national or international standard of training for doulas and some have no qualification at all. The NCT and the University of Worcester decided to offer training to Birth Companions in 2010 and run a 9 month course which involves training at the Midwifery School in Worcester and shadowing local midwives. It is the only UK course of its kind at this level. The training for birth companions is different but the role of a birth companion and doula is similar.

Why might you choose someone outside your family as a birth companion?
There is lots of evidence that a trained Birth Companion can make a difference to the birth outcome. Women are more likely to experience shorter labour, straightforward labour and birth, a positive birth experience. They are less likely to need pain medication, less likely to experience assisted birth, anxiety and postnatal depression Women need to have someone with them whom they trust and who can create the privacy they need to birth their babies. Partners welcome the support of someone with experience and training who can help them.

As the Birth Companion, how do you prepare for the birth?
I would meet with the parents-to-be three times before the birth to discuss what they would like from me. It gives me a chance to get to know the couple and to find out what their likes and dislikes are as well as giving them the opportunity to get to know me. Discussing the plans for the birth and helping expectant parents to prepare are also part of the role. I can be contacted at any stage during pregnancy to make enquiries or a booking.

What advice would you give to someone taking care of their partner during labour and birth?
There are lots of things they can do to support a woman labouring. Partners can help write a birth plan, be prepared to speak for their partner if she is unable to and make the place of birth feel safe and comfortable. Being a strong, calming presence and helping the mother be calm and relaxed perhaps using massage, breathing, encouragement for example. The simple things of making sure they have drinks and food, go to the loo and telling her how amazing she is are all going to make a woman feel special and help let her do her thing.

What made you want to be a NCT Birth Companion?
I wanted to complete a recognised Birth Companions course, and the NCT one was the best course available. Having spent recent years training as an NCT Antenatal Teacher, I have learnt so much about labour and birth, and have also had the privilege of preparing parents for birth and parenting. Hearing women’s stories at reunions encouraged me to consider becoming an NCT Birth Companion as many women felt that they did not have the birth they had hoped for. My previous work for a teenage pregnancy charity also encouraged me to commence training as many of the young women I worked with did not have a birth partner during labour and birth, and felt that their choices were not supported. I hope through training that I will be able to support a diverse range of women through labour, and make the birth of their baby, a special event. I am passionate about helping women and couples to achieve the kind of births they want – no matter what that birth may be......and this is a rewarding way to achieve it.

Do you work in partnership with local midwifery staff?
I work very closely with local midwives in my voluntary role as an NCT Maternity Services Representative on local maternity committees and have the highest regard for midwives and the job that they do. I realise that with the birth rate as high as it is in this area, it is not possible for midwives to offer a caseload service where they will get to know the woman before the birth, and with women often being in labour for quite a while, women may experience one or more shift changes during their time in labour. Having a trained Birth Companion who can get to know a woman or couple, who understands their wishes and is able to support them throughout their whole labour is the next best thing. As I am on call for births I can only accept a small number of bookings each year. I am fortunate enough to work with other local NCT Birth Companions such as Georgina, who are able to be my back up if some unexpected event came up and clients would also have their contact details. I may also act as back up for their clients.

How do I find out more about the Birth Companions Service?
To find out more about the Birth Companion’s service, visit the NCT website http://www.nct.org.uk/courses/nct-birth-companions-doula-service-parents or email b_companions@nct.org.uk

Special Rates for Parents due Mid Feb – Mid/End Apr 2013!!!

As I am currently a student with the university, as part of my training, I have to act as a Birth Companion for a woman or couple, ideally, within the above timescales, and there are currently students training throughout the country who are looking for student births.

For hiring a Student Birth Companion, the NCT is able to offer a significant discount to clients, with a Birth Companion package costing only £250 in most areas. In common with their other services, the NCT also offers reductions to clients on reduced income and the option to spread payments.

If you would like to know more about booking my services as a student Birth Companion within Herts, Beds or Bucks, please contact me directly at Clare_eg@hotmail.com,. To book a Birth Companion outside of these areas, please email b_companions@nct.org.uk.

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