Your support for Amma Birth Companions has the power to make an incredible impact here in Glasgow.
As a new charity, our work is only just beginning. But we know the need is there—and we're determined to make a difference.
With your support, we are positive that we can achieve our mission to improve pregnancy, birth and postnatal outcomes for vulnerable mothers.
“I had my first child which didn’t go as I had envisaged. I was induced twice then put in for an emergency C-section.
It was the most traumatic and painful episode of my life. I went through this all by myself. I was in so much pain that I thought I was going to die.
Looking back, I wish a birth companion would have been there for me and my daughter at that stage . It should have been a joyful experience but turned out to be a bitter one.
I wouldn’t want any other woman to go through what I went through—no matter who we are, where we’re from or what life has thrown in our path in the past."
Because vulnerable women—including refugees, asylum seekers and those with insecure immigration status—face particularly challenging pregnancies and births
The Royal College of Gynaecology report that vulnerable pregnant women, including refugees and asylum-seekers, are three times more likely to die in childbirth and four times more likely to suffer postnatal depression than other women in the UK. What's more, stillborn and premature births, low birth weights and birth defects are also more prevalent for women in these categories.
Other research shows that such women themselves suffer from disproportionately high levels of distress and depression before, during and after pregnancy. As is often the case, these are among the factors that can then prevent women from seeking the help and support they and their babies need.
And what's more, pregnant women with prolonged high levels of stress hormones are more likely to miscarry or have children with increased risk of developmental and mental health problems as they grow up.
Because birth companions have a proven positive, physical and psychological impact on
health and well-being for women and their babies
A 2015 project providing volunteer doulas to low-income communities in the UK reaped overwhelmingly positive results—the majority of women who accepted doula support thought it brought great value and continuity of support during their birth experiences. Participants particularly valued being listened to by someone non-judgemental, able to address fears, help build self-esteem, bring knowledge and companionship, and help them access other services during pregnancy and after birth.
An American project bringing doulas to a group of disadvantaged mothers found participants were four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication, and significantly more likely to breastfeed than their counterparts without doulas.
For mums-to-be with doulas, evidence suggests such support can increase oxytocin levels, leading to decreased stress, fear, and anxiety and in turn to stronger and more effective contractions. Similarly, the care and companionship of a birth companion has been linked to increased beta-endorphins, i.e better pain management for mums in labour.
Broader support networks for new and expectant mums are also hugely important—and Amma helps with that too. Amma's own focus group discussions with vulnerable pregnant women highlighted the vital significance of groups, meet-ups and other networks for mothers (and fathers) to share practical and emotional support, knowledge and insight into birth and parenting with peers.
Because Scotland needs charities like Amma to help vulnerable pregnant women that the current system simply cannot support on its own
The Scottish Government's own reports acknowledge that vulnerable women, including asylum seekers and those with insecure immigration status, are at particular risk of poor health during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.
It recognises that the absence of strong family support networks and language barriers—factors disproportionately affecting refugee and asylum-seeking women—are two major contributing factors to poor perinatal mental health.
Commissioned studies into antenatal health inequalities in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area highlight that unequal access to antenatal healthcare is contributing to inequalities in mother and baby sickness and death rates, with those most exposed to the risks, the ones least likely to access or benefit from the support they need.
The public health authorities recognise that Scotland's need in this area is far from being met by the current system, while a sizeable part of the current provision of services is coming from the charity and third sector. But there is so much more to do, and so many more vulnerable women facing pregnancy and birth alone in challenging circumstances.
This is where Amma comes in—and where you come in too.