Earlier this month I met an amazing group of women. These 16 women have come together to be our newest volunteers in the Caring Mums program.
As all Caring Mums volunteers are mothers themselves, they are used to being directive and giving advice. In this role, they must be there for their matched mum without judgement and without their own agenda, other than that of creating a strong connection. This is difficult for most of us and much of the training is based around learning to accept and respect other people’s ideas and values about motherhood – even if they are different from our own.
The trainees, all of whom are somewhere on their own journey of motherhood, have committed to the 10 hours of training spanning across five consecutive Tuesdays. They are training to be able to give emotional support to other women who are starting on their own new journey of motherhood. Whether it is their first child or their fourth child, each new baby brings its own unique journey, and these volunteers will be there to walk beside them.
The training starts with everyone reflecting on their own experience of early motherhood and looking at what their major influences were and what is different for mums today. We look at the skills and techniques for creating safe and trusting relationships with honest communication- harder than you think!
In the coming weeks we will have a guest speaker from MCHC (Maternal and Child Health Centre), who are our main referral source. She will speak about their role and how we can best support each other. We will also have a visit from PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia), who will talk about what they do and how to recognise symptoms of mental unwellness in our mothers. One of their volunteers comes too and shares her own personal experience. It is always so powerful. We have been so fortunate to have the support of the both MCHC and PANDA from our inception, 10 years ago.
Red flags for domestic violence are also discussed as is the role of Department of Health and Human Services and the role of Child Protection.
Breaking away from naturally wanting to be the problem-solver or rescuer is a huge shift in the way in which we usually deal with those close to us. The volunteer’s role is one of empowerment, encouragement, and support rather than of helper or fixer. They are there to normalise, validate and bear witness to the mother’s journey.
Their focus is the mother rather than the baby. This is a refreshing and validating change for many of our mums. They often tell us that their volunteer was the only one who really cared how they were doing and did not rush to fuss over the baby.
These trainees will be providing a safe, nonjudgmental space for our mums to talk about their disappointments, their challenges as well as their successes and joys. They will be following in the huge footsteps of our 187 volunteers who have been trained in the last 10 years and will take this total to over 200!
Caring Mums is a hugely life changing experience for our past and present mums, volunteers, supervisors, and staff. We are continually growing and adapting the program to meet new challenges as times and needs change.
Robyn, Pam, our supervisors, and I, never cease to be amazed at the amazing connections and impact our volunteers have on the women with whom they work. We look forward to continuing this with these current trainees.
Caring Mums Manager
Learn More about our Caring Mums program