Birth and Parent Companion Program

Birth and Parent Companion Program

The Birth and Parent Companion Program (BPCP) is an award-winning prenatal and parenting support program designed to help build healthier families and stronger communities.

Our goal is for women and families to feel empowered, informed and confident throughout, labour and delivery, and parenthood.

The only one of its kind in Ottawa, the Birth and Parent Companion Program provides one-on-one support to at risk, expectant women in our community during the entire pregnancy, birth, post partum and early childhood phases. The Birth and Parent Companion Program clients include young families, single mothers, isolated women, new Canadians/refugee women and those living with addiction, mental health issues, domestic abuse and other life challenges.

Since the early 1990’s, our trained volunteers have been providing non-judgmental emotional support, advocacy and access to community resources. Through one-on-one support provided by trained volunteers, the BPCP is able to reach many families in our community who would otherwise find themselves navigating the ups and downs of pregnancy and the early years of parenting on their own.

OEYC

The Birth Companion Program receives generous community support and is funded in part by the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Early Years Centre and the United Way.

Birth Companion Program: a support system for pregnant women

Volunteer Opportunities

Birth Companion Program

Birth Companion Program Volunteers are women over the age of 18, who are trained to provide our clients with reassurance, comfort, support and guidance as well as linking them with community resources and support services.

  • Make phone contact with the client within 48 hours of being matched.
  • Meet within one week of being matched.
  • Upon first meeting the client, discuss the program, the client’s expectations and assess needs.
  • Ensure the necessary documents are understood and signed.
  • Maintain contact with the client via text, phone, email and log all communications
  • Empower the client to seek out appropriate solutions by exploring community supports and resources such as Community Health Centres, Community Resource Centres, Healthy Babies Healthy Children, Ottawa Food bank, Mothercraft donation cupboard, etc.
  • Identify and build on the strengths of the client. Communicate genuine respect and praise for what is going well.
  • Meet with the client 2-3 times prenatally at a mutually agreed upon time and place.
  • Listen to what is being said verbally and non-verbally. Encourage communication by allowing the client to disclose her areas of concern at her own pace and discretion.
  • Respect the client and their circumstances by not imposing your standards, beliefs or values on her.
  • Discuss birth preferences and choices for labour and delivery. Help the client to create a birth plan, if desired.
  • Be understanding and tolerant.
  • Respect cultural differences and birth practices.
  • Provide emotional support and encouragement throughout the pregnancy.
  • Encourage good prenatal care, attendance to scheduled appointments, prenatal education, healthy eating etc.
  • Be present with the client once active labour begins and remain with her throughout the birthing process.
  • Encourage the client to speak on her own behalf, ask for clarification and direct questions to primary care givers and hospital staff. Always be mindful of the delicate balance between medical staff and support staff.
  • Be aware of how each client perceives their labor and delivery as well as any unexpected outcomes. Always discuss the labour and delivery at the client’s discretion, being mindful to remain neutral and supportive.
  • Meet with the client up to 2-3 times postnatal, maintaining supportive contact up to 6 weeks postpartum. Re-assess needs and help mobilize community/professional resources and supports.
  • Maintain regular contact with BPCP staff and communicate any concerns or difficulties as they arise.
  • Promise to do only those services which you know you can safely and appropriately fulfill.
  • Be patient with yourself and the client. Building trust and rapport takes time.
  • Be aware of your own boundaries and how to maintain a healthy and empowering relationship rather than one of dependence with the client.
  • Clearly communicate to your client when the last visit will take place and be sensitive when closing a match. Ensure the Match Closure Form is signed by both parties.
  • If you choose to continue a relationship with the client beyond your role as their Birth Companion, please ensure the client is aware that you are doing so at your own discretion and not as a Companion with the BPCP.
  • Notify BPCP staff immediately if there has been an incident, you feel unsafe or are not comfortable with your match.
  • Maintain strict confidentiality at all times and adhere to program policies.
  • Complete necessary documentation/forms and forward them to BPCP staff.
  • Attend a minimum of one professional development opportunity provided by the BPCP per year.

The training is 20 hours in length, at 2.5 hours a week for 8 weeks, (1 evening a week OR Saturday mornings) and includes but is not limited to the following topics: anatomy and physiology, stages of labour, comfort measures, working with marginalized populations and support during the postpartum phase. If accepted into the program, you are committing to taking a match within 6 months of training and being a volunteer for a minimum of 1 year.


*Please note, the Birth Companion program is not a Birth Doula certification program.

Step 1: Complete and return the application form. You will receive confirmation that we have received your completed application.

Step 2: Selected applicants will be invited for an interview. We will be interviewing in February and March for the April/May training and in the summer months for the October/November training.

Step 3: References will be contacted.

Step 4: Selected applicants will receive the document required to obtain a Police Records Check for Serving Vulnerable Sector and be asked to complete this process as soon as possible.

Step 5: Applicants will be notified if have been accepted into the program.

Parent Companion Program

Birth Companion Program Volunteers are women over the age of 18, who are trained to provide ongoing support, encouragement and advocacy to vulnerable families with children under the age of six.

  • Make phone contact with the client within 48 hours of being matched
  • Maintain regular contact with the family as determined with program staff, a minimum of 1 visit per month for the duration of the match
  • Upon first meeting the client, discuss the program, the client’s expectations and assess needs
  • Ensure the necessary documents are understood and signed
  • Maintain contact with the client via text, phone, email and log all communications
  • Empower the client to seek out appropriate solutions by exploring community supports and resources such as Community Health Centres, Community Resource Centres, Healthy Babies Healthy Children, Ottawa Food bank, Mothercraft donation cupboard etc.
  • Identify and build on the strengths of the client.  Communicate genuine respect and praise for what is going well.
  • Listen to what is being said verbally and non-verbally.  Encourage communication by allowing the family to disclose areas of concern at their own pace and discretion
  • Respect the client and their circumstances by not imposing your standards, beliefs or values
  • Be understanding and tolerant
  • Respect cultural differences and parenting practices
  • Use best practices for home visiting
  • Provide ongoing support, encouragement, understanding, help with problem solving and referrals to community resources and supports
  • Provide up to date information on child development, positive parenting practices and behaviour management
  • Attend workshops and events/activities with the family whenever possible
  • Discuss parenting challenges and potential solutions
  • Set short and long term goals
  • Ensure program paperwork is completed and returned within the given deadlines
  • Maintain regular contact with BPCP staff and communicate any concerns or difficulties as they arise
  • Promise to do only those services which you know you can safely and appropriately fulfill
  • Be patient with yourself and the client
  • Be aware of your own boundaries and how to maintain a healthy and empowering relationship rather than one of dependence with the client
  • Clearly communicate to your client when the last visit will take place and be sensitive when closing a match.  Ensure the Match Closure Form is signed by both parties.
  • If you choose to continue a relationship with the client beyond your role as their Parent Companion, please ensure the client is aware that you are doing so at your own discretion and not as a Companion with the BPCP.
  • Notify BPCP staff immediately if there has been an incident, you feel unsafe or are not comfortable with your match.
  • Maintain strict confidentiality at all times and adhere to program policies.
  • Complete necessary documentation/forms and forward them to BPCP staff.
  • Attend a minimum of one professional development opportunity provided by the BPCP per year.

Successful candidates are rigorously screened and participate in an intensive training program.  Ongoing professional development is encouraged and provided throughout the year.  Classes are small and interactive to prepare volunteers for their role as Volunteer Parent Companions.
Prospective volunteers are asked to submit an application. Chosen applicants will be invited to come in for an interview. Successful candidates are rigorously screened and participate in an intensive training program. The application process is ongoing.

Feel like you can help?

The Birth and Parent Companion Program is often looking for volunteers to contribute to the program in different capacities, i.e. translation services, maintenance and organization of the donation closet, donation drop off, assistance at special events, etc. Please contact us at bpcp@mothercraft.com if you are interested in volunteering in this capacity.

The Birth and Parent Companion Program depends on the support of the community to continue its valuable work with vulnerable families within our community. We accept new and gently used items and are often looking for the following items:

  • Infant clothing size 0-3 months;
  • Receiving blankets;
  • Sanitary napkins;
  • New nursing pads;
  • New nursing bras.

The Birth and Parent Companion Program is a registered charitable organization (charitable # 10686 4325 RP 0001), if you wish to make a financial contribution please contact us at bpcp@mothercraft.com.

Box with donations for kids

Frequently Asked Questions

A Birth Companion’s role is to provide support in the form of information, referrals, emotional and physical comfort measures, reassurance and companionship to the expecting family.  This support spans prenatally from the 3rd trimester, throughout the labour and delivery and up to 6 weeks postpartum. Companions are not responsible for the medical management of the pregnancy, labour or delivery.
The Companion is expected to arrange 2-3 prenatal and postnatal visits with the family they are matched with.  If more or less support is required, arrangements can be made at the discretion and availability of the Companion.  Companions are encouraged to have regular contact with their match in the form of phone calls, texts, emails and visits.
We discourage our Companions from driving their matches.  Decisions and liability involved in doing so is at the sole discretion of the Companion.  They can help to create a travel plan for hospital visits.
Companions are not permitted to stay overnight for any reason.  They can help with postnatal tips, suggestions and referrals for additional support if necessary.
While the needs of each family is unique, the program expectation is 2-3 prenatal and 2-3 postnatal visits scheduled at a time that is mutually convenient for both you and the family.
Matching is often done in the 3rd trimester and the support continues as needed up to 6 weeks postpartum.  At that time, the family’s file is closed and referrals for additional supports are made if necessary.
No. Once accepted into the BPCP, you will complete a comprehensive, 20 hour training which will provide you with the skills, knowledge and resources to become a Birth Companion.
Yes. Before accepting a match, we ask that you have the flexibility both personally and professionally to attend a birth two weeks prior to the estimated due date and two weeks after the estimated due date.

Need more information about the programs?

Contact us at bpcp@mothercraft.com or reach out to:

Genevieve Chabot 613-728-1839   ext. 289 gchabot@mothercraft.com
Courtney Holmes 613-728-1839   ext. 227 courtney@mothercraft.com