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How Bradford Volunteer Doulas are helping expectant mums through COVID-19 pandemic

Being a Bradford Volunteer Doula is certainly a very ‘hands-on’ job, however thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this voluntary service has adapted the way that they work and have successfully provided Doula support at a distance.

The service continues to be very much in demand, and they have recently announced a recruitment drive for more volunteer doulas with socially distanced training to begin in January 2021.

One volunteer doula, Jane Longthorn, said: “I had only met the expectant mum that I was supporting once before lockdown happened. I was absolutely gutted because 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 other mums had, had from me previously.

“There was no home visiting, no meeting up in person, no hospital visits, and only one birth partner allowed at the hospital – so I could only provide support over the phone. I had to adapt and ensure the mum could still rely on me. I was mainly there to ease her worries, and we also went through how the COVID-19 changes would impact on her pregnancy and how she should look after herself once the baby was born.

“The mum gave birth to a baby girl 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. For the six weeks after the birth of her daughter, we continued chatting regularly over the phone about how she 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.”

Aliya Fazil, Programme Manager, Bradford Doulas, said: “Bradford Doulas have adapted new ways of supporting women during the pandemic, including ways to make virtual meetings accessible, ensuring key maternal health messages are reaching women, creating visual birth plans and working with interpreters and checking in on women’s wellbeing. This role has never more been needed in such a unprecedented time for pregnant women of Bradford

‘’Adapting as a service has had great benefits for volunteers too; by offering regular virtual training, upskilling doulas to support virtual delivery, doulas mentoring other doulas, and creating new opportunities that help retain volunteers by building on their passion and skills. Our volunteer Doulas have truly amazed us by their commitment to help and continue to volunteer throughout the pandemic.’’

To apply to be a Bradford Volunteer Doula, contact Minupar for an application form on 01274 223232 or email [email protected]. The deadline for applications is Friday 13 November 2020.

Better Start Bradford was set up to help children get the best start in life and is made possible thanks to a £49 million National Lottery grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

This article featured in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus online on Monday 9 November. Here is a link to the article.

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