A community engagement event discussing maternal mental health was held at the Khidmat Centres last week.
The session, organised by Rukeya Miah, deputy associate director of Nursing, senior midwife, and professional midwifery advocate, who currently works as the Vaccine Equalities Lead for Bradford District & Craven District Vaccination Programme, opened with talks surrounding mental health and vaccine delay in expecting and young mothers.
The event was held on Thursday, 31 March, the final day of the month celebrating International Women’s Day, which took place two weeks prior.
Women from the South Asian community, community leaders, local councillors, and experts from the NHS in Bradford talked about the impact Covid-19 has had on young women who are planning to start a family, are currently pregnant, or have given birth in the past two years.
Mrs Miah said: “The event was about maternal mental health and delays in vaccine uptake. Looking at the wider impact of the pandemic as a whole made me want to have this engagement with young and expecting mothers, especially after the number of deaths of young mums in the district.
“The session focused on three things. The first was looking at the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young mums. The second was surrounding vaccine delay and hesitancy among pregnant and young mothers, and the third was around what the NHS could do to better help and support communities deal with mental health issues.”
Cllr Sabiya Khan, chair of the British Muslim Women’s Forum, Saliha Sadiq, vice-chair and director at Millan community centre, Jaspreet Sohal, chief pharmacist at Bradford District Care NHS Trust (BDCT), Dr Lian Chua, Dr Nada Sabir, and Dr Lisa Milne from BDCT, Sofia Buncy DL MBE, national coordinator of the Khidmat Centres, and Masira Hans from Mind in Bradford and Women’s Health Network, were among panellists at the event.
Young mums who delayed getting their Covid-19 vaccine were also invited to speak about their experiences during the pandemic at the event. Local male community leaders were invited to join the session but declined because they wanted the women to have a safe space where they were able to talk openly and freely without worrying about their presence.
The senior midwife added: “My background is in midwifery. Organising this event was important to me because if we don’t care for mothers, we won’t get happy, healthy babies. Mothers are the linchpin of the family. It was important for me, as a midwife, and a person from the community, to be able to provide this type of safe space.
“If people like me take the lead in delivering the sessions, then hopefully there will be more opportunities for women and service providers to feel confident in delivering help and support.”