A WOMAN from Poole is set to be accompanied by her assistance dog while giving birth in a “first” for her maternity hospital.

Assistance dog handler Charlotte Beard is a fighter. Having previously suffered three miscarriages, her fourth pregnancy is one that has been heavily aided by her multipurpose assistance dog, Flump.

The impact that Flump, a Maltese, has had on Charlotte’s life inspired her to take the “rare opportunity” to request that her dog be present during the birth of her child, due in December at Poole Hospital.

Charlotte, 24, said: “Flump is my medical aid, you wouldn't ask someone to go to hospital without their wheelchair so, as long as it's reasonable, an assistance dog has the right to attend and assist their handler.

Bournemouth Echo: Multipurpose assistance dog Flump and Charlotte BeardMultipurpose assistance dog Flump and Charlotte Beard

“I have a long list of physical and mental health issues and much of it has left me quite scarred. I deal with these issues daily and my quality of life has been incredibly low at times. This is my fourth pregnancy and the first we’ll get to bring home. It’s been an incredibly long road for me.”

Charlotte suffers from non-epileptic seizures, a heart condition causing faintness and chronic pain, as well as PTSD.

It was during a discussion with a health professional that Charlotte was introduced to the idea of an assistance dog and gave her the confidence to admit that she needed help.

Having studied animal behaviour and training at a Wiltshire college, giving Charlotte a “little bit of a head start”, she got Flump at 10-weeks old and trained the dog to high standards herself with guidance from other organisations and trainers.

Bournemouth Echo: Flump, the Maltese multipurpose assistance dogFlump, the Maltese multipurpose assistance dog

Charlotte said: “Labradors are often seen as go to assistance dogs but actually they come in all different shapes and sizes. The vast majority are owner trained and I’ve even seen Chihuahuas used for these purposes.

She added: “We say Flump is like my partner or an extension of myself. The idea of doing such a momentous moment in my life, also such a vulnerable point, without Flump by my side just didn’t seem right.

“I don’t stop needing my requirements because I’m giving birth. He will alert me or those around to potential non-epileptic seizures. If I’m in labour and he senses it, it will give the nurses the time we need to prepare to keep me safe.

“On the hospital side of things, the environment can be a trigger for PTSD. If triggered, I can go into full flashback where I see and hear things that aren’t happening. Flump will nuzzle and lick me to provide tactile interruption or a physical stimuli to bring me back, as well as being trained in light pressure therapy.”

Bournemouth Echo: Flump and Charlotte at the supermarketFlump and Charlotte at the supermarket

Charlotte recently became incapacitated in a hospital bathroom. Flump quickly walked down the corridor, found a nurse and led her to Charlotte in an act that she described as “absolutely amazing”.

Multiple contingency plans are in place for Flump’s possible reaction to the birth. Charlotte said that the dog cannot be “100 per cent” prepared for the birth because “you can't exactly do a practice run”. However, family members will step in if the dog becomes distressed.

The future mother said that while she was nervous about giving birth, the presence of her pooch will give her “huge comfort”, knowing he can work alongside hospital staff to keep her safe.

To keep updated with Charlotte’s progress, follow @binxyphoenix on Instagram.