Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and Tuesday is International Women’s Day. I will be celebrating with my husband and son, with my mum, dad and brother and we will Skype Phil’s mum over in Spain. Like many UK mums, I will open gifts and cards, hold my gorgeous boy closely, give my own mum a gift and card, eat nourishing and delicious food. I am lucky.
As this post goes live, I will be 33 weeks and 4 days pregnant with our second baby – a daughter for my husband and I, a sister for our 19 month old son. Throughout those 33 weeks and 4 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 held at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. Along with Leigh and Cash – 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. All 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.
When you read or hear things in the media about the ‘migrant crisis’, when high profile figures talk about ‘swarms’, remember that you are safe and warm, you are not risking your life in an attempt to save it.
Please have a look at the work of Women For Refugee Women and if you want to help, you can sign their petition. Mother’s Day is a day for celebration for most of us, but for these ladies it’s another day of fear and uncertainty.
Have you heard of Women For Refugee Women before? Are you shocked by the stories we filmed? Let me know in the comments below or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter. I would be very, very grateful if you could share this post as wide as possible using the tag #SetHerFree, so that together, we can force change.