Mum tells Bradford CCG how the doula service touched her life

Bradford City clinical leaders will gain insight into the unique role of the local ‘doula’ service, which supports vulnerable and isolated women through pregnancy and childbirth, at their governing body meeting next week (Weds 11 March).

The Bradford Doulas Project is funded by Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide an important part of the child and maternal services available in the area – to improve the wellbeing of both mums and their babies.

Local mum Tahera Begum, 28, received help and close support from her volunteer ‘doula’ as she prepared for the birth of her second child.

Tahera, who already had a one-year-old son, had very little family support and was isolated and vulnerable when she was referred to the Bradford Doulas Project by her local children’s centre in the late stages of her pregnancy.

Her family support worker had asked for the doula service’s support to help Tahera cope with her pregnancy and provide someone to be with her during labour and the birth, and also help make sure she was linked to appropriate support services when she came home.

Tahera’s doula was Aliya Fazil, who is also project coordinator for the doula service, which involves matching mums with doulas. Aliya only got to know Tahera a few days before she had her baby girl, but they quickly formed a bond of trust and Aliya was able to support her through the birth and see her settled back at home with her husband.

“I was very happy that Aliya was there for me: I didn’t want to go through the birth on my own,” said Tahera. “I really want to thank Aliya for being with me at that time.”

Aliya worked closely with the midwives and other health professionals to follow Tahera’s birth plan, and supported her to start breastfeeding and bonding with her baby.

“I think the biggest benefit of having a doula is for women, who often have no-one else, to have someone to say ‘it’s OK’ and hold their hand. Having a baby is such a scary experience, whatever a woman’s background; and not having any support is really scary – that’s where the doulas come in and help at such an important time.

“The doulas don’t get paid for their role, but they do it simply because they want to support other women. Many of our local doulas are mums themselves and may have had difficult births or been young mums and want to help other women in similar situations.”

Aliya said the doulas receive good feedback from the health professionals they work with and have built up strong relationships with maternity staff, community midwives and GPs to ensure they know how to refer women to the service and understand the doulas’ role.

Dr Akram Khan, clinical chair at Bradford City CCG, said: “Improving maternal and child health is a priority for our CCG and the doula service is a great example of grassroots support for some women who, for a number of reasons, need extra practical and emotional help during their pregnancy.

“Tahera’s story shows the value a doula can bring to someone’s quality of life and support network at such an important time. The trust built up between a mother and her doula can help in many different ways to improve both her and her new baby’s health and wellbeing.”

Women from all communities can be referred to the service by children’s centres, social services, the NSPCC or mental health services. The main criteria is that they are vulnerable, living in isolated circumstances or may have had a traumatic birth in the past.

The doulas are experienced women who are trained to provide emotional and practical support to mums-to-be and their partners in later stages of pregnancy, through childbirth and in the immediate postnatal period. They do not replace a midwife but are an additional support to women.

Since the project started in 2012, about 30 doulas have been trained through the Open College Network and have supported almost 80 mums. The volunteers receive ongoing training on drug/alcohol awareness, genetics and relationships, healthy eating, exercise and smoking.

 

Bradford City CCG’s governing body is holding its meeting in public at Womenzone, 19-21 Hubert Street, Bradford, on Wednesday 11 March at 1.30pm. The agenda and associated papers are available on the CCG website

If you would like to tell the CCG about your experiences please contact: engage@bradford.nhs.uk   Local people can also become members of their practice patient participation group or get in touch with Healthwatch Bradford and District at www.healthwatchbradford.co.uk

 

ENDS