Pregnancy Outreach Workers succeed in helping hard to reach young mums.

Gateway’s Pregnancy Outreach workers offer one to one practical and emotional support. They make sure vulnerable women access all the services and help available, resulting in healthier mothers and healthier babies who can be hard to reach. This is a typical case.

After Alison* found she was pregnant she was referred to the POW service because she was a teenager, she smoked and her housing was far from ideal.

She was very frank about her lifestyle, and her difficult childhood. She said she’d self-harmed while she was still at school, and that she’d used cannabis and cocaine ‘to forget’. Although she said she’d given up cocaine, she said she still used cannabis quite heavily.

It was clear Alison needed emotional support and practical advice. A Gateway POW helped her to access all the services and grants she was eligible for, and told her how she could reduce her intake of cannabis. A ‘Stop Smoking Clinic’ was suggested.

Alison said she’d rather try and give up by herself, that she’d cut down from 25 to 5 cigarettes a day and only used cannabis once in the evening.

Alison shared her fears around parenting and her doubts about being a good mother. The outreach worker tried to give her confidence and practical support, then, three months before she gave birth, Social Services got in touch with her. They said they’d been contacted about her cannabis use. She was really worried, but was given reassurance and told to be open and honest with the social worker when they visited.

Alison went to a support group at her local children’s centre and Gateway’s outreach worker visited her at home until she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

On the day she left hospital, Alison  was again visited at home by Social Workers. They drew up a 6 week care agreement with her and said if they had no cause for concern at the end of it, they would close her case. She followed the care agreement, and when the 6 weeks were up the social workers were satisfied. She continued to breastfeed, and said that after her daughter was born she didn’t use cannabis at all.

With support, Alison made a distinct change in her attitude to life. She now plans to devote herself to her baby’s early years, and then commit to full time study for a career in childcare. Alison said she considered the POW her ‘pal’, and said the help and support she got made a real difference.

*not her real name.