Maternal health support centre gets a revamp

Members of The Zoe Project at the opening of the non-profit organisation’s newly renovated centre at the Mitchell’s Plain Midwife Obstetrics Unit.

The Zoe Project, a non-profit organisation that provides maternal heath care, has opened its newly renovated support centre outside the Mitchell’s Plain Midwife Obstetrics Unit (MOU).

It was a positive development for expectant mothers, said founder Tracey Aitken at the opening ceremony, on Thursday April 20 (“Zoe Projects helps expectant moms,“ Plainsman, May 11 2022).

“To be able to spread hope and courage is an amazing thing. The staff and community now have a space where women can feel loved and not judged,” she said. “This centre is just a representation of our heart that we are committed to staying for the long term.”

The Zoe Project has been running for 23 years. It started at the Retreat day hospital, and started offering a service at the Mitchell’s Plain MOU last year. The new centre, renovated with support from donations and the Mitchell’s Plain day hospital, boasts a counselling room, an antenatal classroom and a vegetable garden.

The centre would work with the MOU staff to make sure expectant mothers knew that doulas could help them with their birthing experience, said Ms Aitken.

Aza Mahela, 25, of Woodlands, described how attending antenatal classes at The Zoe Project had helped her with her pregnancy.

“I didn’t know how my journey was going to go. Antenatal facilitator Natasha Fieliciano taught us a lot of things, like how to take care of ourselves and how to have a good diet, to name a few,” she said.

Anita Muller, 25, from Beacon Valley, who is expecting her second child, also attended the classes. She said, “With my first child, I didn’t know as much. People always gave me advice on pregnancy, and I realised, during the classes I attended, I didn’t need to follow their way of doing it. I could do it my way.

“There are many people in our community who need to attend these classes. It is so helpful. These classes were needed a long time ago. It definitely makes a difference in a public hospital.”

Doula Fahmieda Barends said women shouldn’t be alone during their birthing experience. “This is where we come in and assist where we can. During the birthing process, we need to make sure mothers are covered and also supported,” she said.

“We are here to teach them, help them. We’re even here to remind them to bring snacks along or items they will forget during their birth experience. We’re here to help as best we can.

“I get my dopamine fix in helping mothers as this is important to me. I don’t want them to go through a bad experience.”

Ms Fieliciano has been training the moms in the antenatal classes during the renovation of the centre. “Something as simple as teaching them how they got pregnant is so important, especially for the first-time mom,” she said. “Young moms need help as the advice they’re given can scare them, and we wouldn’t want them to experience fear or stress during pregnancy. We want to help them become the best parents they can be.”

The next round of antenatal classes starts on Thursday June 8, and the moms must be under 30 weeks pregnant.

The Zoe Project staff are training seven doulas through a course that started a month ago (“Zoe Project in need of doulas,” Plainsman February 15 2023).

The organisation is appealing for help to fix the centre’s roof, which is leaking despite the renovations, and it also needs donations of baby items. Email or WhatsApp 079 776 9893 if you can help.

Zoe Project founder Tracey Aitken speaks to staff and expectant mothers at the official opening of the non-profit organisation’s newly renovated centre, on Thursday April 20.
Anita Muller, 25, from Beacon Valley, and Aza Mahela, 25, from Woodlands, say they found The Zoe Project antenatal classes helpful.