Released on: 19 August 2016
Two women give their views of a scheme where we trained ‘maternity champions’ from an estate in London’s Queen’s Park to give local mums more help.
Being a new mum can be overwhelming and isolating, particularly if you don’t speak the language and don’t know your way around the system or the support on offer.
We’ve recently trained some volunteers in London’s Queen’s Park to become ‘maternity champions’ to give local mums more help.
Here, Lina, one of the maternity champions, tell us about her work:
As a maternity champion, I support women in my community. I used to be like some of the mums I now help but I’ve become much more confident through my work.
We mainly see local mothers at the twice weekly drop-in sessions. Many new mums are scared of picking up their babies, worried about doing it wrong. So we start with practical things like different ways of carrying a baby, feeding, how to wash and dress them. When they see you doing it and try it themselves you can see them feeling more confident.
We often encourage mums to sing to their babies. This shows how a calm voice can relax a baby, how singing softly and gently can calm them down. The mothers really enjoy singing too and it can help to distract a baby - when changing nappies, for example.
We talk a lot about a good diet at the drop-ins and different ways of feeding and weaning babies. We also make healthy smoothies for the mums to remind them that they’re important too and they need to look after themselves.
I speak Arabic which means I can help Moroccan and Syrian mothers to access services. One mum didn’t speak English and missed her appointment with her midwife. She was too shy to talk to the lady herself. I re-arranged her appointment and translated for her at the meeting.
It’s especially difficult when it’s a mother’s first child and there’s no family or father around. These women really need support. Maternity champions like me can signpost them to local services which help with housing problems or claiming benefits. Some women need to be referred to domestic violence units or have partners who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The mums help us maternity champions too. It’s always nice to see them in the street and chat. I’m much more confident now when talking to them.
I’ve just started an NCT infant feeding course, which is brilliant. In the future, I’d like to become an infant feeding supporter too.
Caroline, one of the mums who used the drop-in services, tells her story:
I was made to feel welcome right away. I met other mothers and the maternity champion told me about other services. I got to learn how to relate to my baby, how to talk to her, songs to sing her.
I was a little down from staying at home too much but the love they showed me really helped. It was like a family.