In recent times, there have been increasing numbers of displaced people crossing borders to find safety. These numbers exceed anything predicted. Among them are pregnant women who find themselves trying to settle in a new place, often facing language barriers, extreme social isolation and trying to navigate an entirely new system of healthcare.
Project MAMA offers free, confidential and individual-focused holistic support to women throughout pregnancy, labour and childbirth, and those first few weeks of parenthood.
We support women refugees, asylum-seekers, survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking and other displaced women. We are now supporting the 40th woman accepting our support and are seeing referral numbers rise rapidly.
We are a hive of Bristol-based volunteer midwives, doulas, activists, childbirth educators, and holistic therapists that form a peer network of skills, support and solidarity for women and their children. Our ethos is to encourage independence, support mothers to make informed choices and bolster resilience by providing a safe and nurturing space. We facilitate a thriving hub promoting peer support every Friday at our Drop-in, “Bumps & Babes without Borders”. Project MAMA also actively promotes an understanding of a woman’s rights and entitlements surrounding maternity healthcare in these challenging times.
As we approach our second year, health professionals and partner charities continue to rely on Project MAMA so women can get the support they need to give birth safely, make informed choices and have dependable and compassionate emotional and practical support throughout.
We see at first hand how the trauma women can experience on their journey to the UK causes often profound mental health issues, additional anxiety weighing in alongside immigration pressures which can have a detrimental effect on their pregnancies and their offsprings. Often, women have no family members or community around them during their pregnancy, labour and birth and the crucial weeks of early parenthood: an utterly terrifying prospect for any new mother.
Project MAMA is needed not only for these reasons, but also because of the difficulties women have accessing healthcare in the UK amongst all their other struggles. Statistics are shocking and show that women from a migrant background are three times more likely to die in childbirth and four times more likely to suffer postnatal depression than other women in the UK. Their babies are more likely to be stillborn or born prematurely, to have a low birth weight, or to have birth defects. (Source: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2015).
Furthermore, two thirds of women refugees are the survivors of sexual assault as a direct result of forced migration, of which pregnancy can be a consequence. (Source: Reproductive Health Matters, 2015)
We think this situation is intolerable and we are working hard to ensure women have equal access to healthcare and the nurturing support they need when they most need it.
Project MAMA bridges this gap so that women will have the support they need during the maternity period.
We appreciate immensely any donation offered to the project so we can continue with the vital work we do so no woman is denied the support they need for a safe and positive birth experience.
Love and Solidarity,
The team at Project MAMA