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You can be a mentor

As you look around your community do you see unmet needs of expectant families? Do you hope more advocates for normal birth decide to serve families? Did you know you can play a role in helping future birth professionals find their path, and you don’t have to start a school or become a trainer to do that. Your role can be as simple as becoming a mentor.

The mentoring concept is pretty easy, you provide a space for someone who has not yet learned the things you know to discover those very things. While the concept is easy, in practice it can be difficult to set up a mentoring relationship. Most women are not accustomed to looking at a relationship with the boundaries of mentoring. Mentoring is a time-limited relationship, when the mentoring time is over the relationship will change. Mentoring is a purposed relationship, both parties are working towards a common goal rather than simply enjoying the friendship. I found a worksheet that may help you define some of the boundaries of your mentoring relationship.  It is designed for a youth mentoring program, but you could easily adapt it because the questions it asks are relevant to any formal mentoring partnership.

Mentoring also requires accepting that you have something you can teach another woman. If you have been working in the birth world for many years you may already accept this fact. But you might not. I had been a birth professional for eight years, eager to soak up as much knowledge as I could find, when I realized I was no longer a “beginner” at birth. Yes, I still have much to learn. But that does not mean that what I have already learned would not help someone with less experience than I.

So this week I will be posting guest mentors. Not famous names or leaders in the childbirth world, but readers just like you who have realized they know something about birth that other birth professionals could benefit from knowing.  Enjoy!

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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