Is it a baby day today? asks my husband first thing in the morning. I am a retired education worker and have been volunteering as a ‘birth buddy’ with Parents 1st for over four years for a few hours every week.

I first became interested in volunteering with Parents 1st after seeing an advert in a local paper. At that time, I had just supported my daughter through a difficult birth. When I first joined Parents 1st, I underwent volunteer training which took four months but really gave me a whole range of new skills and has helped me to grow as a person. For instance, we learned not to judge but to look at things from a different perspective. Also, we were taught not to answer a question but to enable the person asking to work out the answer for themselves which shows you are respecting someone and don’t just try to ‘fix’ them. However, volunteering is about giving time, not answers. Every mother is different and has different needs. Some women have experienced post-natal depression or have suffered abuse in the past; others may need support as they have not experienced good parenting themselves, are without partners or have other children to look after.

I once had a phone call from the mother I was working with in the middle of the night when her labour first started. I went to see her immediately and stayed with her until midday the next day. It was a very emotional time for the mother as her partner was no longer around, and her own mother couldn’t be there.

Volunteering with Parents 1st has helped me to grow as a person. There have been times when I was well out of my comfort zone but worked through issues. We are not there to do the job of midwives, nurses or other professionals but to provide emotional and practical support to families where needed. Although necessary, the hardest part for me of being a birth buddy is to let go once the family is ready. But it is a lovely feeling to know that I have helped a family to grow to overcome some of their problems.