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Frequently Asked Questions

The SMC focuses on managing emotions, relationships and trauma reactions during pregnancy. It's done by phone.

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What is the SMC?
Survivor Moms’ Companion is the first evidence-based, trauma-specific intervention designed by midwives. It was created for pregnant women and new moms who have histories of sexual abuse and family violence.

Survivor moms told us they want to know they are not alone. The SMC helps women with past abuse, neglect, and other trauma do well with pregnancy and birth. It helps them build and use supportive relationships so they are not alone during this joyful and stressful time.

The SMC is not therapy. It’s a series of weekly lessons that helps a survivor mom learn about and manage her reactions and feelings during pregnancy, labor, birth and the first few months of motherhood. It helps survivor moms be great moms.

How does it work?
The SMC lessons focus on managing emotions, relationships and trauma reactions during and after pregnancy. The survivor mom reads each lesson on her own. Then she meets with a trained therapist via a weekly, one-to-one, private phone call. Because this is an educational program, not psychotherapy, we call this specialist a “tutor.” Each woman’s tutor helps her with new information, skills and support. Calls are 30 minutes a week for 10 weeks. Ideally, the tutor is a partner with the woman’s chosen prenatal and/or postnatal services.

Who is a survivor mom?
The SMC was written for women who had endured neglect, sexual abuse or other family violence in childhood. Women with other traumatic experiences might find it useful too, but the tutor might need to adapt the lessons. Women can decide if the program is right for them by reading The Fitting Room brochure.

Who are the tutors?
Staff of any maternity care or early childhood care agency or professionals in individual practice can become SMC providers. Tutors may be nurses, midwives, social workers, childbirth educators, doulas or other skilled service providers who have completed SMC training. On-site training is available to agencies wishing to offer SMC to their clients/patients. In 2019, the training will also be available for individuals at pre-conference workshops linked to annual professional conferences. These will be listed on this website when scheduled.

Can women use the SMC on their own? 
The SMC involves working with a tutor. Ask your midwife or doctor if the SMC is available near you.

Does the woman have to have PTSD? 
No. Many survivor moms struggle with some aspects of posttraumatic stress without officially meeting the diagnostic criteria for the disorder. Others have never sought mental health care. The SMC focuses on emotions, relationships and reactions that are part of PTS. It also addresses pregnancy and parenting needs—whether the survivor has been diagnosed with PTSD or not.

Is this only for first-time moms?
No. Survivor Moms’ Companion was originally written for first-time moms. But experienced survivor moms tell us it helps them too. Understanding how past trauma affects present-day feelings, relationships and reactions is helpful during and after any pregnancy.

Do women have to talk about their trauma?
No. The focus of SMC is on the woman’s experience now. She will benefit from thinking about her own personal history. But the lessons do not require sharing details of her own story. Survivor moms can even practice the new skills from the SMC lessons using the characters’ stories in the workbook, if that is best for them.

What if your trauma is something different from childhood maltreatment?
Coping with the effects of childhood sexual trauma is the main focus of the SMC. The effects of other trauma (Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), adult sexual assault, etc.) may also be helped by this program, but are not directly addressed.

How much time does the SMC take?
The goal is to do 10 lessons/modules over about 10 weeks. Each lesson takes an hour or two to read and then problem-solve for a character in a story. The phone visit to go over the lesson, as well as discuss and answer questions, etc., takes 30 minutes or less.

How much does it cost survivor moms to take part?
There is no cost to the women. The tutor’s agency gets the cost covered.

When can a woman start the course?
It is best to start near the time regular childbirth classes start, but anytime is fine.