All You Need to Know About Becoming a Perinatal Support Worker (PNSW)

New, expecting mothers have copious amounts of information and challenges to face during and after pregnancy. 

Aside from the typical birthing processes, some mothers are faced with overwhelming health complications that are not easy to navigate through alone. 

This is where a perinatal support worker (PNSW) steps into their necessary role.

What is a Perinatal Support Worker?

A PNSW is a non-medical professional who works with expecting mothers and their infants from the prenatal period to age one by providing “physical, emotional, and educational support”. 

A certified PNSW receives their education from a recognized college institution in order to fulfill these job qualifications.

What Does a PNSW do?

PNSWs provide a wide variety of care under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional. 

Roles and responsibilities of PNSW differ from the duties of a PSW.

It is important to know that a PNSW can work as a PSW however a PSW can not work as PNSW.

Responsibilities and roles include, but are not limited to:

  • Prenatal period: fertility support, educational classes, pregnancy/labor/birthing coaching
  • Postpartum period: in-home support, breastfeeding education and support, newborn care and education, parental care, education and support for parents and/or infants with special needs.

Roles do not include general babysitting, housekeeping, transportation, or medical advisement duties.

The overall goal of a PNSW is to provide parents and babies with the education and support that they need in order to independently care for the infant and to smoothly gain their footing as parents.

Some of the other qualifications, training, duties and responsibilities of a PNSW are:

  • Knowledge and training in all aspects of the perinatal period,
  • Training in assistance during waterbirth,
  • Trained in providing assistance with hypnosis for pain management,
  • Trained in breastfeeding support,
  • Trained in infant and perinatal mental health,
  • Trained in providing non-invasive and comforting touch for new mothers and babies,
  • Trained to offer assistance with nutrition during pregnancy and for the newborn, and
  • Trained to provide and assist in mindfulness.

How to Become a PNSW?

In order to become a certified and recognized PNSW, you must complete the academic program. 

This involves 350 hours of academics (130 of which is spent in class) and 330 hours of independent study. 

After the academic portion is completed, students will need to obtain 500 hours of apprenticeship/volunteer work made up of three areas: labor, post-partum, and breastfeeding support. 

Once the hours are completed, then students may go on to complete the written PNSW exam which must be completed and passed in order to be certified.

The Perinatal Support Worker program is now offered online through Mohawk College.

In order to apply for the PNSW program, you must already have your diploma from a secondary educational institution as a Personal Support Worker. 

The PNSW program is designed for students who wish to continue working full-time while completing the course requirements.

Prerequisites to Become a PNSW?

In order to apply for the PNSW program, you must be a Personal Support Worker (PSW).

The PSW program must have been taken at a recognized institution – see also how to upgrade from a PSW to a practical nurse.

PNSW Registry

Global Perinatal Support Network maintains a registry of all the PNSWs who have either graduated or are enrolled in the program and are in the practicum part of the program.

You must maintain the following to be eligible for PNSW registry:

  • Liability Insurance
  • Background check
  • Valid CPR/Infant CPR certificate

How Much do PNSWs Earn?

Perinatal Support Workers are typically employed in a healthcare facility.

Hourly pay rate ranges from $25.00 to $40.00 per hour.

The amount of fee a PNSW can charge also varies by the type of service offered and can often range from $800 to $1500 for both the pre and postpartum care.

PNSWs also work as childbirth educators and typically charge between $35 to $40 per hour for their services.

Where do PNSWs Work?

Perinatal Support Workers can find employment in a wide variety of settings.

Some of the areas of employment are:

  • Birthing clinics,
  • Doctor’s clinics,
  • Breastfeeding clinics,
  • Community settings,
  • Hospitals,
  • Parenting education facilities, and
  • Private businesses and agencies.

Cost of the Program

The PNSW program is offered by Mohawk College.

It is an online program.

The tuition cost is $3,000. 

Additional costs include books or other relevant education material used in the program. 

There is also a $500 fees for the practicum component of the program.

PNSW Program Structure

The PNSW program offered by Mohawk College is quite flexible.

The theory component of the program can be completed on a part-time basis.

The practicum component may however require additional time commitment.

The theory portion of the program includes a total of 170 hours of combined learning.

How to Register?

PNSW program is offered by Mohawk College.

It is an online program.

Practicum portion of the program is however in person.

The online fall session runs through September to February. 

Click on the button below to apply for the PNSW program at Mohawk College.

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Avlin is passionate about helping aspirants become better personal support workers. He is an entrepreneur and runs a clinic in Toronto.

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