Jane Longthorn, 42 is a volunteer doula with Bradford Doulas and has supported four expectant mums over the last 18 months.
When she started supporting her fifth mum, Aneesah, COVID-19 struck. Jane was worried that she would not be able to support Aneesah during her pregnancy in the same way that she had supported her other mums. In this blog we hear how Jane’s support was just as valuable over the phone.
It was at the beginning of March 2020 when I was matched with Aneesah, who was due to have her third baby. During our initial weekly home visits, Aneesah and I got to know one another. We discussed options and choices for her labour and birth, and I was able to join her at a midwife’s appointment to discuss her birth plan.
The COVID-19 lockdown was announced – what were we going to do?
We arranged for our next visit to be at the park. Then the COVID-19 lockdown was announced! There would be no home visiting, no meeting up in person, no hospital visitors, and only one birth partner allowed at the hospital. What were we going to do? Well, the Bradford Volunteer Doulas Project was going to have to adapt and continue to deliver their service over the phone.
I was so worried because I couldn’t be at her side
I am such a tactile person and I was so worried that because I couldn’t be at her side, I wouldn’t be able to give her the support that I have been able to give to other mums.
As a volunteer doula, I had to adapt and ensure that Aneesah could still rely on me. I had to ease her worries through this time. We continued to speak on the phone on a regular basis, with Aneesah being able to ring me whenever she needed me.
We re-evaluated her birth plan and continued to prepare her for labour. We also went through how the changes because of COVID-19 would impact on Aneesah and her pregnancy and looked at how she should also look after herself once her baby was born.
It’s important for new mums to be kind to themselves
We discussed how important it was for her to rest when the baby had a sleep and not to be trying to catch up on jobs. It is very important for new mums to be kind to themselves and not feel guilty if the house isn’t tidy.
Aneesah gave birth to baby Aiza in April and although I was not able to attend the birth, I was in touch regularly around the time of the labour to support her. She also felt well supported by her husband and the Clover Midwifery Team, who provide continuity of carer through their midwives.
Knowing I was at the end of a phone made all the difference to Aneesah
For the six weeks after the birth of baby Aiza, Aneesah and I continued chatting regularly over the phone about how Aneesah was getting on with her baby during the pandemic. On our final call, I told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been able to be next to her throughout. She told me that just by knowing that I was there at the end of the phone made all the difference to her. That was so lovely to hear.
What Aneesah said
‘’Having a doula has more than met my expectations. I felt that I got all the right support from Jane. I was able to share and discuss anything with her, especially if I was feeling low”.
About Bradford Volunteer Doulas
Bradford Doulas offer practical and emotional support to pregnant mums six weeks before the birth, during labour and six weeks after the birth, through trained volunteers.
Our Bradford Doulas project supports women to make the best choices for themselves and their babies, helping them to achieve a positive birth experience and building their knowledge to enable them to make informed decisions about childbirth, nutrition and breastfeeding. Support from volunteer doulas can also connect families into network of other support services.
Support during COVID-19
While all face-to-face delivery, including birth support, is suspended for the time being, expectant mothers are receiving support from the Doulas team via phone and video calls.
They are continuing to accept new referrals so please call the team on 01274 223232 or email [email protected].