Monday, 9 April 2012 | By: The One Woman


38 weeks
I thought I better get this post done as my bags are packed and my due date approaches next week! 

Anti natal classes
So, I am sorry to say that my experiences thus far with anti natal classes have not been great. They were all geared at couples, even the paid classes through the NCT (national childcare trust). I attended 3 NHS funded classes on the recommendation of my midwife and took a close friend with me. They were couples only and pretty much covered what I had read in my guidebook ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’ and ‘what to expect the first year’ by Heidi Murkoff and the NHS website

I found that the men were bewildered and the women very quiet. Subjects such as breast-feeding and pain relief during labour were covered but again I found myself saying in my head ‘I know’ repeatedly. I don’t know everything of course, but I felt the classes were just too basic and not at all interactive; I didn’t get to make friends with any of the other mothers either because it just wasn’t that kind of environment. I felt deflated and let down that the classes weren't up to scratch and that I wasn’t given any advice on where I could find support as a single mother from my midwife or at the classes. 

Doula Support
By chance I stumbled upon a leaflet in the hospital geared at ethnic minority women called HAAMLA
This voluntary service was created specifically for pregnant women and new mothers in difficult situations, such as refugees for example. I knew I did not fit the criteria exactly but I took a shot in the dark and contacted them to see if I could qualify for any support. I was then assessed informally at my home and HAAMLA concluded that I did in fact qualify for some help. I was partnered with what is called a Doula. A doula is a birth partner, here is an in depth description of a doula’s role
My doula came to visit me at my home and we discussed
-Preparing the house to bring baby home
-My health/mental health
-Packing hospital bags
-Going into labour together
-A birthing plan
-After birth plan
-Classes and mother groups after the birth
-Registering the birth with me
-Home support such as breast feeding, bathing, what to do if baby becomes ill and so on
She will support me before, during and after the birth and have her mobile phone on for me 24/7. It is such a wonderful support for me and I am so grateful to HAAMLA for this service. I have my parents of course but I am essentially going into this blind, with no experience and no partner, so this is just an amazing relief for me.
I would recommend that if you find yourself in a situation like mine that you enquire about a voluntary doula and also find a good reference book. The classes just don’t cut it in my opinion. It may be that the Leeds area just didn’t have what I was looking for, so research your area and classes available to you before making a decision like this. If you are looking for a voluntary doula in your area, I suggest that you contact this website: they have listed organisations for most areas of the North of England and could direct you do an organisation near you. 


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