Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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CAPA to begin training new volunteer labor coaches
the Inland Register
(From the Feb. 23, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)
The mystery and joy of birth is a privilege to witness. That’s what keeps volunteer labor coaches for Catholic Charities’ CAPA (Childbirth and Parenting Alone) program coming back for more.
A labor coach, who must be at least 21 years of age, has to have a passion for birth and the willingness to learn the skills of labor support and to be on-call 24/7 for at least two weeks before and after the due date. Since trust is important, it’s best if she is willing to meet with the mother before the birth. She must have a sincere desire to assist women who would otherwise be alone in this profound, transformative experience. She must maintain a nonjudg-mental attitude.
“The most important thing is to check your own agenda at the door,” says longtime labor coach Heidi Conant. “You may feel you know what’s best for the mom, but this is just about giving someone the support and love to get through it.”
That’s what labor coach Amanda offered to “Julie.” After the birth, Julie wrote to CAPA: “Amanda was there for me every step of the way, offering support, reassurance, and prayers. I had a very long labor… I was induced Wednesday and did not deliver until Friday morning. She stayed by my side, gave encouraging words, backrubs, and helped me to focus and stay in control. She was ever patient as she helped me find my breathing patterns over and over again. She made me feel strong and yet very secure and nurtured.
“Amanda was amazing. Overall it was a very beautiful experience for me. She always listened and watched for cues from me to help me more, and she was open to assisting me with anything I thought might help, in addition to having endless suggestions of her own. I honestly don’t know if I could have done it without her. I think I would have just given up. I never felt alone. I truly think that I may have been the luckiest and most cared for woman that ever gave birth.”
The labor coaches are equally enthusiastic about their experiences. They explain that being at a birth is a deep and transformative honor. “I always come out learning more from these moms than they learn from me, and more than I expected,” one labor coach explained. Another said excitedly after a birth, “It just doesn’t get any better than this!”
CAPA will begin training new volunteer labor coaches this spring. On Friday, May 19, CAPA will hold an all-day training to teach women how to guide a woman through labor while giving physical and emotional support. This training will be followed by a dinner from 5:30-7:30 the following Monday, at which labor support people will be honored and will share their experiences with the new trainees. All potential volunteers will be given background checks, an interview, and the same volunteer training as other Catholic Charities volunteers. People who are interested in making this important commitment can call 325-7667.