Training a Midwife Birth Assistant
In out-of-hospital births, having a reliable, competent assistant is HUGE! NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program) recommends two certified attendants at birth. Training a midwife assistant is vital in today’s birth world! What if something is going on with the mother and baby at the same time? It happens many times when the baby needs a little help transitioning and the mother starts to bleed from stressing about her baby. My assistants were the most important staff I trained and hired for my home birth practice. I wanted staff that I could count on to answer their phone at 2 a.m. and have immediate babysitter options for their kids to jump at a moment’s notice.
I loved having birth assistants who were nurses, midwife students, or doulas. It provided the perfect opportunity to surround them with a normal birth before completing school or seeing a hospital birth. Midwife students were great because you got them familiar with your practice and oriented them at a low cost. A great way to interview a new midwife is by having them assist you a few times!
Full-day training for birth assistants with practice
They needed to have BLS and NRP training prior to taking the full-day program. I would do simulations of rare emergency situations, practice taking vitals on a “laboring woman,” and get familiar with the charting system and “tasks” that needed to be done when arriving at the woman’s home, including preparing for birth and the postpartum recovery period.
The educational day was open to other midwives to bring their assistants, and I trained birth assistants from all over the state. You are more than welcome to email for a price quote on all the educational material and details on training a birth assistant.
Your birth assistant needs to be competent in drawing up pitocin for the midwife to give, keeping sterile technique when helping with vaginal repair, setting up an imminent birth essential kit (my “precip kit” included birth instruments, PPH meds, and a newborn resuscitation mask), and providing labor support for long hours at a time on limited scattered sleep.
We would have a birth assistant on-call for a 24-hour period with a first-call and second-call rotation. We created a “resource list” of birth assistants who were comfortable with us calling at the last minute to see if they were available (great to have in rare situations when a couple of births at the same time, someone gets sick, or we can’t reach a birth assistant).
Birth Assistants were the Rock of my Practice
There were times in a 24-hour period when I did a few births, my assistant was flexible and rolled with the waves of what birth gave us. When interviewing potential birth assistants, really stress the potential negatives of this role (everything wants to be around birth and the high points, but may not be truly committed to the level of care needed for home birth practice needs).
I knew they were competent and qualified to be with me at birth since I directly trained them. There was a minimum amount of call coverage each person had to commit to (hard to keep staff qualified when they only see a birth every few months).
I would nap here and there with their trusting skills in the other room with the women. My really good assistant was my other half, and we had a fluid motion of roles together. I could focus on charting from birth and needed paperwork while the entire recovery for mother and baby was done by an assistant.
Birth assistant skills in breastfeeding support, labor support, basic assessment skills, and clean-up were very important in out-of-hospital births. Clear expectations of training, competencies, tasks at birth, and commitment level were imperative when filling out this job description. Your birth assistant will either save you or break you, depending on how well you train and hire them!