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East Lancashire's homeless mums get birth help from doula
PREGNANCY and birth has been made a whole lot easier for East Lancashire’s homeless mums thanks to the help of a doula.
Karen Spencer, who works with girls at The Foyer in Blackburn, has just qualified as the ‘first of a kind’ at the centre’s Lone Parent Unit.
The role of a doula is to provide emotional and practical support through pregnancy, during labour, birth and early parenthood.
Karen, 47, has worked at the Princes Street project since it opened in 2002 and has been present at three births since she qualified.
She said: “It is such a shame the NHS has made so many cuts to its midwifery services. Women do not get the support they used to get and birth can be a very scary thing.
“A doula provides support that a midwife used to do a long time a go. It is a shame that midwives have little time because of paperwork and other things taking up their time.”
So far, the youngest mum Karen has supported at the centre was just 16. Most of the mums between 16 and 25 come from broken relationships and have been made homeless and value a doula’s support.
There are currently six single parent units and four family units at The Foyer.
A doula is not a medical professional and is not there to replace the role of a midwife but to support the mothers.
Karen said she is there to listen, encourage and give re-assurance, helping expectant mums make informed choices about the labour and birth.
The mum-of two said: “Hospitals can be scary places and they are alien to your body. If you have a doula she will guide and support the mum all of the way.”
Covering births across East Lancashire, Karen says TV programmes like One Born Every Minute made women fear the worst.
“I cringe when I see the women screaming and lying on their backs. Labour and birth can be a relaxed experience. If more women had the support of a doula their fears can be put to bed.”