Where it all began – hospital volunteering

Today I received my ‘clearance’ to volunteer at my local hospital. I’m now officially a NCT Breastfeeding Peer Supporter and hospital volunteer.

It’s been a long, involved, emotional process and so it should be actually as I’ll be working on a ‘specialised’ (consultant led) ward with newborn babies and women who may be feeling more vulnerable than they have ever felt before.

In case the process is something you, my reading friends, have ever wondered about: I’ve completed two application forms, a six week course in breastfeeding and peer supporting, a three hour safeguarding exam, a ward induction, a four hour general hospital induction (which had me arriving back at home sobbing) and an interview. Four references have been taken up, vaccination records have been dusted down, and ID papers sent and shown to all and sundry.

I am good to go! Complete with two badges and a t-shirt.

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I embarked upon it because when I was breastfeeding I found it hard in so many complicated ways, probably far harder than I should have done but then I do like to overthink things. Also for me, going back into the hospital is a bit of a personal challenge.

Most importantly though I want to do this because although I do believe that breastfeeding is the biological norm, that doesn’t mean that it works for everyone or that everyone wants to do it. I want to help empower women to have the feeding experience they want with less difficulty, less guilt, more confidence and more support.

I’m extremely proud today that I can start properly but, naturally (I think) I’m also a tad terrified…

What if my shouty, uniformed t-shirt just results in mothers feeling as though they are being approached by a great big hulk of breastfeeding pressure?

OR

I accidentally wake someone up?

OR

I forget everything I’ve learnt from 18 months breastfeeding and all the training and have a distressed mother, a hungry baby and just a blank brain?

OR

I languish in the hellish hospital car park for days trying to get my normal-sized car either in or out of the abnormally small spaces?

OR

I let the fact that I think I have a nursing aversion (yes, well I did say I overthink things) get in the way of being able to watch a feed and make proper analysis?

OR

I get stuck at the midwives’ station staring at the radio.

Ok the first five, I’ll just have to deal with but the last one? You see I’ve been carrying around a fair bit of guilt about my first few days with young LJ. Mostly about me not feeling what I thought I was supposed to feel. Four long, hormonal, tired, guilt ridden days on the aforementioned ‘specialised’ ward and I was all sorts of things but joyful wasn’t one of them.

And I know this sounds crazy, but for almost two years I have felt dreadful about the fact that after 40 hours of being awake (and most of it in labour) I accepted the offer of the midwives to take LJ for a few hours while I slept. Apparently he was very happy and enjoyed listening to the radio very much, but the thought of this had me in turmoil since day one. I think it’s been psychologically symbolic, or something.

2013-08-04 13.44.06
Unfussed and unflustered – thank goodness one of us held it together…

Anyway, anyway, 22 months later, early June and cue ward induction…I was a little ball of nerves. Excited, yes but I did wonder about whether I’d be able to hold it together, and can you imagine how embarrassing it would have been if one of the inductees ended up rocking in the corner of a corridor!?

You’ll be relieved to know that didn’t happen. Surprisingly I loved being back on the ward. I emerged feeling both peaceful and exhilarated. It was incredibly good therapy!

You see I’m not the person I was in August 2013. I’m an amazing mother to LJ (well someone’s got to say it!), I’m confident and so happy. Choosing to go back where it all began in a ‘professional’ capacity to use my skills and experience to help other women is a world away from going there in an immobile capacity scared of everything and wanting to the world to stop for a minute.

So overall today is a proud day, I really hope as a volunteer, I can make other women feel ok about things if they need it, maybe make them smile a bit, and most of all help them feel in control and supported.

And in a selfish way volunteering has already given me something amazing. The best part of the ward induction? Admittance to the midwife station, trying to take in where notes are kept and what the board means, and then suddenly realising where I was and what I really needed to see right then…the innocuous, slightly retro, black radio in the corner of the room. I was transfixed and I was healed.

Is volunteering something you’ve ever considered? More information on volunteering with the NCT can be found here.

Adventures of a Novice Mum

 

MaternityMondays
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20 thoughts on “Where it all began – hospital volunteering

  1. Wow, it must feel amazing and rewarding to do what you do. My OH always tells me I should do it (Oliver self weaned at 23 months) and I always wonder about doing it in the future – it sounds really hard though!

    Well done 🙂

    #breastfeedingandI

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    1. It wasn’t too hard, just lots of (necessary) hoops to jump through. My local branch are really supportive of mothers fitting the volunteering in around other things as well…namely children! But also work and life generally. Maybe look it up near you, and see when the next training course is, you could always have a chat with someone and see if you’re interested after that. Thank you v much for your support and for commenting x

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  2. I hope the volunteering is going well and you’re having a good Sunday.

    I’ve nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers award. You can check out what it involves here: https://clairehuston.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers/

    I’ve cut the questions down to just 4 as I know you’re busy and responding to nominations can take ages when the list of questions is really long. Please only take part if you have time and haven’t been nominated for this one already. I took over 2 weeks to respond to my nomination!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, how wonderful to be able to give back! I think it would have made a world of difference to have more than one lactation expert available to me in the hospital. I know the LC meant well, but she clearly had no idea that breastfeeding twins was even possible. Had I not educated myself beforehand, I would have given up on breastfeeding altogether after the first time I talked to her. #BreastfeedingAndI

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    1. That’s a worry isn’t it? I think more training is so badly needed and then top up training too.
      But brilliant that you did the preparation and education beforehand. A girl who trained with me is a breastfeeding mother of twins and by the sounds of it only due to a steely determination after being told (in hospital) that she would never be able to breastfeed them at all let alone at the same time.
      As ever, thank you for stopping by Sadia.

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  4. O yes, volunteering is something I’ll consider. So lovely that you’ve not just considered it but gone for it and given it what it takes to make it happen. Well done and congratulations on receiving your clearance! I am so pleased for you and I’m chuffed with you. There is healing in reaching out to make other people’s experience better in areas where our experience could have been better.

    “I want to help empower women to have the feeding experience they want with less difficulty, less guilt, more confidence and more support.” – YOU WILL! You will in way that’s beyond what you could have imagined.

    Well done. Thanks for linking to #BreastfeedingandI, and for becoming one of the key support that will help many mums to have a better infant feeding experience. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much. That means a lot to me.
      I think you’ll find you are already volunteering as a breastfeeding supporter! By creating this linky…a considered, well thought out and safe community/forum for people to share their experiences with each other I think you are offering a huge amount of support to mothers on their feeding journeys.
      Thank you for hosting #breastfeedingandi

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  5. Thanks for sharing. As someone who found breastfeeding challenging, I really admire what you are doing. Sounds like you will be a person who will do the world of good for struggling first-time mums. #maternitymondays

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    1. Thank you. I found it challenging too (I think far more women do than don’t) and it was thanks to good support at the right time that made the difference. So fingers crossed. Thank you very much for commenting x

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    1. Thanks Laura, that’s really kind. I’ve done a couple of sessions now and first feed watched a few days ago and it was ok, thank you! I was very nervous but firstly it’s not about me (despite my post being all about me!) and secondly it was really lovely to be able to spend time talking with the mother, signposting to information and most of all empathising. I think I’m going to find it hard not always being able to follow up and find out how they are getting on, I’m already itching to know how the last few days have been for this woman! x

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  6. What an amazing thing to be doing, I’m sure you’ll give so many women the support and help they need. I’m planning on bf this time so hopefully I’ll see someone just as supportive xx

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    1. Thank you very much! There are lots of places you can get help from if you don’t find your maternity services immediately supportive. Support lines and places you can visit as well. Good luck.
      Not long now for you! How exciting…hope everything goes ok. Will be over to visit your birth preferences post shortly! Thank you very much for commenting xx

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  7. Wow what an amazing thing to be doing, both for yourself and for the countless other women I am sure you will help. I am so impressed honestly and wish I had made more use of support while breastfeeding (like you I overthink things) and that there had been more on the ward. Love this, thanks for linking with #MaternityMondays xx

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    1. Thank you so much Caroline, that’s really kind.
      I feel so well supported by all the lovely bloggers!
      No, I didn’t really make the most of any support that i had to go and look for. Even the in-hospital breastfeeding team because you had to go and visit them which all seemed a bit much for me at that point…But having ward support would have really helped. So fingers crossed I won’t offend/wake anyone up etc and can offer some useful assistance!
      Thanks for hosting #maternitymondays…you know I love it!

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