The Bethel Doula Service is a team of experienced professionals dedicated to supporting women and their families affected by mental health issues in pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. We are supported by around 40 volunteers helping us to reach as many people as possible across the West Midlands.
(Pictured above, Senior Doula, Jennie with a baby she helped to deliver)
The money raised from this campaign will be spent on providing regular one to one and peer support groups for women affected by maternal mental ill-health either in pregnancy, labour and beyond. We will also support women who have experienced the devastation of infant loss through our specialist peer mentor programme. No one should go through this trauma alone.
*Aynoor’s story – loss of a child
Aynoor is a married mother of one who tragically lost her second child at 22 weeks. She became pregnant again, as she said herself before she had a chance to grieve her loss. Concerned about Aynoor’s mental health, her midwife asked us to help.
Aynoor felt guilty and anxious, worried she would lose the baby she was carrying. Happily, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy but her still unresolved grief prevented her from initially bonding with the baby. With the patient support of our team, we are supporting Aynoor and her family through this difficult time.
*Becky’s story – struggling to get a foothold
Becky was seven months pregnant when she was referred to us. She was failing to keep antenatal appointments which raised alarm bells. When we received her details we were surprised to see her address listed as a tent behind a store somewhere on the inner ring road of Birmingham. Becky had a history of drug and alcohol dependency, but she stopped using when she found out she was pregnant. Although she wanted to get support for herself and her child, her poor mental health meant she just wasn’t able to ‘get a foothold’. Unfortunately, this led to her baby being removed into the care of social services soon after birth but we were at her side all the way.
With your help, we could do more to support women like Becky to keep their children and find decent accommodation.
*Names and details changed to protect anonymity
Who we help
We work with some of the most disadvantaged women in the West Midlands. Our service users may be living in poverty, victims of human trafficking, domestic violence survivors, homeless, asylum seekers, refugees, teenage mums or isolated and alone. Whatever the challenges they are facing, they are under enormous stress and often struggle to recover from trauma.
How we help
Supporting stretched public services
Maternal mental health conditions can range from low mood to psychosis and if undetected and treated can have catastrophic impacts on families. COVID-19 has resulted in reductions to service provision.
We work closely with the NHS with most of the referrals to our services are from midwives, nurses and GPs.
Our experienced team, led by a former NHS midwife, is passionate and dedicated to helping women and their families affected by mental health issues in pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.
(Pictured above, Senior Doula Teresa)
Emotional and practical support
We provide emotional and practical support to our service users both on a one to one basis and through peer support.
We seek to build trust and empower our service users with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make their own choices and manage their wellbeing. We are also experts in handling more complex cases that may not end well, but we can ensure that we are there to support a mother having to give up her baby to social services or who has tragically lost her child during the pregnancy, birth or soon after.
(Pictured above, volunteer Gail, who helped to support our service users during lockdown)
Moving the conversation beyond ‘baby blues’
A major recurring theme for women is that antenatal classes often fail to mention mental wellbeing, and when they do, they primarily focus on baby blues and postnatal depression. Many women who experience anxiety conditions feel that their symptoms are ignored or not treated seriously enough because they do not fit into the category of postnatal depression. For those who experience infant loss, the impacts can be devastating.
Bethel aims to fill these gaps, providing community-led understanding and support for women who desperately need it.