The Bradford Doula project, a venture dedicated to providing practical and emotional assistance to expectant mothers and their families before, during, and after childbirth, has reached its 12th year of operation. To mark this occasion, the Bradford Doulas team organised a grand ‘birthday party’, extending invitations to families who have recently received support, along with the dedicated volunteers. This event offered a unique opportunity for families to reunite with the volunteer Doulas who had supported them through pregnancy, childbirth, and the initial weeks of parenthood.

Taking place at the Carlisle Business Centre, the event achieved tremendous success, with a total of 155 attendees throughout the day. Additionally, ten other community organisations and companies joined in the celebration, ensuring a wide array of enjoyable activities, including face painting, henna application, banner crafting, forest school crafts, and the renowned Bradford Stories Bus. The Bradford Friendship Choir delivered a splendid performance, uniting families and Doulas in song.

Furthermore, the event provided 46 food parcels to families, courtesy of the JKN food bank, and nearly 200 eco-friendly nappies were distributed, thanks to the Bradford Council.

A volunteer Doula serves as a ‘professional friend’, aiding women and birthing individuals in making positive choices, accompanying them to appointments, offering practical assistance during childbirth, establishing positive relationships with other services, and providing emotional support. Doulas also act as advocates for families, voicing support for their choices.

Research indicates that when a woman or birthing individual receives continuous support before, during, and after childbirth, they are more likely to have positive birthing experiences. Additionally, pairing families with a doula from a similar ethnic, linguistic, or religious background is a crucial step towards enhancing equity and offering culturally sensitive care.

Bradford Doulas supported Omotanwa before, during and after the birth of her daughter, she said: “Having a doula, it means you are in safe hands, which means you should not be worried…having them around me I felt so relaxed.”

Ruth Shaw, senior head of integration and change – women and children, Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership, said: “The Bradford Doulas project helps provide mothers and families in Bradford with the maternity support they need to help their babies have the best start in life.

“This project, which was initially funded by Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group 12 years ago and then enhanced as part of our Reducing Inequalities in Communities (RIC) programme, is responding to local needs and addressing the health inequalities we see across Bradford so that local families can live happy and healthy lives. Happy Birthday Bradford Doulas.”

Gill Thornton, Head of Programme at Better Start Bradford, said: “Bradford Doulas has been funded in the Better Start Bradford area as part of our innovative programme since 2015, supporting families with children aged 0-3 including pregnancy. We were delighted to join in the celebration as we have seen how much women and their babies benefit from this extra-tailored support in pregnancy and childbirth. Our families love the Doula service and feel they and their babies get a much better start when they have a Doula alongside them.”

Bradford Doulas is in a continuous process of recruiting and training new volunteer doulas. If you are interested, please contact: info@bradforddoulas.org.uk