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BBC Radio 4 Listens to Maternity Mates

The BBC Radio 4 flagship consumer programme, You and Yours, featured an interview with one of our most experienced Maternity Mates, Laura Cullen, on how Maternity Mates support women during pregnancy, birth and the early weeks of motherhood.  

The interview was part of a 45 minute "special" broadcast on Tuesday 23rd February dedicated to women's experiences of giving birth in light of the publication of a major review commissioned by NHS England, which looks at improving maternity services over the next five years.

Laura explained to presenter, Winifred Robinson, how Maternity Mates support pregnant women who have specific healthcare needs or don't have a suitable support network to become better informed so that they have more control over their birth experience, contributing to positive outcomes for both the women and their families.

Hear the interview

Please click here to listen to the interview (Laura is featured approximately 34 minutes into the programme).

The Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick, was also interviewed at length, giving her reaction to the report as well as the birth experiences of the women featured in the programme. Please click here to read Cathy Warwick's views on the NHS National Maternity Review "Better Births".

The programme also heard from women who had recently given birth - from those who had very traumatic experiences, to those who had nothing but praise for their treatment.  However, the programme highlighted the shortage of midwives that has resulted in many women not receiving the attention they need, which has contributed to women reporting negative experiences of maternity care.

About Maternity Mates

WHFS (Women's Health & Family Services) developed the pioneering Maternity Mates programme in the London borough of Tower Hamlets in 2010, and expanded into neighbouring Newham in April 2015. Maternity Mates is funded by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group for each borough and we are currently planning to expand the programme in London, with the aim of becoming a nationwide service.  

Our first expansion since the interview has been the launch in Waltham Forest in 2017 with funding from Barts Charity and the Big Lottery.

Maternity Mates are female volunteers who are given accredited training by WHFS to provide emotional and practical support to pregnant women who have specific healthcare needs or do not have a suitable support network.  We support women from the 5th month of pregnancy, during birth and up to 12 weeks following the birth.  Maternity Mates do not offer clinical advice or perform any medical tasks, but work alongside healthcare professionals to help women gain a positive experience of giving birth and caring for her new baby.

Further information

  • Please click here to read more about Maternity Mates and the support we offer
  • Please click here for details on how to become a Maternity Mate
  • Please click here to read the full report - National Maternity Review "Better Births"


For further information, please contact:

Jasmin Begum - Programme Manager
M:  07960 327 760
T:   020 7377 9640
E:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Maternity Mates is the registered trademark of WHFS (Women's Health & Family Services)