Bad Godesberg Many young and expectant mothers isolate themselves out of fear of contracting the corona virus. The counselling centre EVA in Bad Godesberg helps them in this situation.
Guided by the desire to work more with and for women, Claudia Küster took up her post as head of the Protestant Counselling Centre for Pregnancy, Sexuality and Prenatal Diagnosis (EVA) at the beginning of October. The family therapist had already worked in a counselling centre for women during her studies - now, after ten years in addiction support, she consciously wanted to "refresh other approaches to difficult life situations". "As a systemic family therapist, I am well acquainted with the views of young women and families," she says.
Claudia Küster is no stranger to the Diakonisches Werk: Ten years ago, she helped set up the Im Wingert clinic of the Caritas and Diakonie outpatient addiction support service and has been working there as psychological director ever since. After some staff fluctuations in the counselling centre last year, a strong management is needed, which is why Küster sees her role mainly in the leadership and coordination of the 14-member team.
But the therapist will also be involved in pregnancy conflict counselling. Despite the corona situation, which makes large team meetings in presence impossible, Claudia Küster has settled well in the team. "The colleagues are very open and don't make it difficult for me," she says.
The counselling centre of the Diakonisches Werk offers a wide range of counselling and support services - during pregnancy and before and after the birth of a child. The services range from contraceptive counselling and sex education to a baby clothing store. Women who are thinking about terminating their pregnancy will find contact persons in the pregnancy conflict counselling who will advise and accompany them in an open-ended manner - even beyond a possible termination of pregnancy. "With the woman, for the woman and at the woman's side" - this is the mission statement of the Protestant counselling centre. Parents who are confronted with an abnormal prenatal diagnostic finding can contact the counselling centre.
Intercultural breakfast café for mothers and infants
After the birth, the family midwives of the Diakonisches Werk provide practical support and accompany the young families in their child's "first step into life". "MamaMia" is the name of EVA's intercultural breakfast café for mothers and their infants. The offer is primarily aimed at women who have to cope with special challenges. Single mothers, women with socio-economic problems or conflict-ridden family relationships as well as refugee mothers. The breakfast café is a gateway to EVA's support system - for women who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
After her first impressions of the counselling centre, Küster is very impressed by the work of the team. There are often many different starting points for an individual problem, the individual situation of the mother. "The centre is set up to find the right (piece of) fit in the puzzle for every situation," says Andrea Hillebrand from Diakonisches Werk. The counselling centre offers a holistic service and is just as prepared to answer short-term questions as it is to accompany families over a longer period of time. It is not uncommon for a woman to contact the centre about financial or organisational questions concerning the birth, for example, and in the course of the counselling further needs become clear.
The Corona pandemic affects the way the EVA team works as well as the situation of expectant mothers. The women working in the counselling centre noticed a great deal of uncertainty among the clients. The fear of becoming infected as a pregnant woman or as a young mother led some mothers to isolate themselves completely. The experience of loneliness, but also tense situations in the partnership posed a challenge. "During this time, it was important to signal as a counselling centre that we were still there," explains Küster. Being able to offer counselling appointments by phone at any time, but also on site - taking hygiene conditions into account - was particularly important to the team. Especially women who make use of pregnancy conflict counselling cannot wait several weeks.
In addition, the EVA team also understood its role in the pandemic as deciphering the constantly changing information situation, providing clarification and thus conveying security. The "delivery room question" was particularly explosive in the first weeks of the pandemic: How will my birth be able to proceed? Who will be allowed to accompany me? The EVA team advises individuals, couples and families on these and all other questions about pregnancy and birth, regardless of their origin or denomination. Counselling is free of charge.
Original text: Hanna Fath
Translation: Mareike Graepel