Ahead of Mother’s Day, we collaborated with Mumsnet on a short online film to raise awareness of the detention of pregnant women. In the film, three Mumsnet users read out the stories of women who have been detained at Yarl’s Wood detention centre while pregnant.
This is a guest post from Hannah, of blog Budding Smiles, who read the story of Priya (not her real name) in the film.
As I write this, I am 33 weeks and 3 days pregnant with my second baby – a daughter for my husband and me, a sister for my 19 month old son. Throughout those 33 weeks and 3 days I have received care from my GP, midwife, sonographer, physiotherapist, husband, mum, friends… I’ve had a wonderful amount of care and support around me, and any difficulties that my pregnancy has presented have been checked upon and treated if necessary.
I’m lucky. I was born into a family home that was in a country not torn apart by war. I never feared for my life because of rape, gangs, homelessness, starvation. I never had to consider fleeing my home and my family in order to try and find safety. I am lucky, but many women are not.
I recently travelled to London to take part in filming a video with Women For Refugee Women, who are highlighting the plight of pregnant refugee women who are held at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. Along with two other bloggers, two other mothers, we were filmed reading the stories of three women who have risked everything to get to the presumed safety of the UK.
We read of how these women have experienced being put back into their rooms after collapsing, without adequate medical checks as to why they fainted, of no psychological support for depression and anxiety, of having a 71p daily allowance to buy alternative food when the meals supplied triggered terrible sickness.
These women are detained indefinitely and, in 2014 alone, there were 99 pregnant women held in these sorts of conditions at Yarl’s Wood.
Filming was highly emotional, we read the letters out without having previously read them so our reactions are completely natural and – as you can tell from the video – we were shocked and saddened to say the least.
As a pregnant woman, I’ve never taken my pregnancy for granted but I guess that I have taken the care that is accessible to me for granted. I’ve not had to think about picking alternative meals should certain food make me sick, I’ve worried about migraines and other prospectively dangerous symptoms but I’ve always been able to get medical attention immediately and had these things investigated thoroughly. I may have worried that my baby was in danger, but I never worried about the level of care I would receive.
These ladies and their babies have access to basic healthcare but basic it certainly is. Minimal scans, midwife checks, blood tests. A lack of friends and family to support them. Indefinite detention. For many of them, this was because they feared so greatly for their lives that they truly felt that escaping and becoming a refugee was their safest option; to make a perilous journey across many dangerous countries in the hope of raising their babies in safety. No mother would do that unless she felt that she had no other choice.