‘A baby at 16 won’t stop us’ – the project helping Newham’s teenage parents
- Credit: Archant
In four months time 16-year-old Gabriele will give birth.
But despite the common myth that teenage pregnancy destroys futures, it hasn’t stopped her finishing her qualifications or diluted her desire to get straight into work.
Thanks to a project provided by East London NHS Foundation Trust, teenage mums inNewham are finding ways to manage the demands of parenthood.
The often unplanned turn of events doesn’t spell the end of education or stop them starting careers.
“My course finishes four weeks before my due date,” said Gabriele Cerkesaite. “So I’ll have time to prepare myself, have the baby, sit down, get into the routine and in September I’m hoping to get a job and start working. I want to finish education and have another baby in a few years’ time too.”
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The Family Nurse Partnership programme means first time mums like Gabriele receive regular visits from trained nurses from early pregnancy until the baby is two.
The service came to the borough two years ago and works with clients across a range of teen ages, all of whom were 19 or under when they became pregnant.
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Gabriele is finishing an apprenticeship in community sports at City Gateway in Canary Wharf.
She said the service has made her more confident about motherhood, adding: “At first I thought ‘oh my god what am I going to do’. We needed loads of help because we’d never been around babies before.
“But now I know I can call Aisling (her nurse) and say, what do I do?
“It’s nice to know we’ve got professional advice. I’ve learnt so much, like how to change a nappy and how to hold a baby.
“It’s basically teaching me how to be a good mum.”
She was referred to the service, at Western Gateway, Custom House, by her midwife.
And it also caters for her boyfriend, Brandon.
“When we heard about this service we said yes straight away,” said 16-year-old Brandon Fenttiman.
“We look forward to it every week. I’ve gained loads more confidence.”
Newham’s FNP has enrolled 60 families on the programme and they have had 35 babies so far.
The couple’s family nurse, Aisling Vanston-Rumney, meets with the pair once a week to discuss their health, the baby’s health and life aspirations.
Before taking the job she was a nurse for nine years and then a school nurse.
She said: “It’s a privilege getting to know people this well at this point in their lives.” Zoe Vowles, the family supervisor, explained the success of the service means it has secured a big commitment from the government.
She added: “The life circumstances of the parents we work with are really mixed, generally reflecting the population in Newham.
“Most people we work with want to be the best parents they can be, but it’s a diverse case load.”