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Teen mums hail caring Carolyn

Newsdate: 14th February 2008

Wigan Borough is leading the fight to reduce repeat teenage pregnancies.

The Government launched the National Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in 1999. An important part of the plan is to reduce the number of teenage mothers having a second pregnancy.

Of the teenagers who gave birth in Wigan during 2006, less than 10% were subsequent teenage pregnancies, compared with England’s rate of around 20%.

Carolyn Harrison

The relatively low rate in Wigan is in no small part due to NHS Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teenage Pregnancy Midwife Carolyn Harrison. Her work was recognised recently when she was invited to share good practice with counterparts from across the country at national NHS teenage pregnancy conferences in Birmingham and London.

Carolyn visits pregnant teenagers across the borough to review previous contraception use, if any, and to discuss future birth control. She also makes postnatal visits to younger teenagers and those deemed more vulnerable to give them advice, condoms and information on local young mum’s groups and services.

Kathy Wilding, 17, from Newtown, whose son Jayden is five months old, says: “I fell pregnant when I was 16. I didn’t know what to expect and I was scared about the future. Having Carolyn as my midwife really made a difference. She puts her heart into the job and she really makes an effort to get to know the people she helps. It can be difficult speaking about things like contraception but Carolyn made me feel relaxed and it was easy talking to her.”

Elizabeth Roberts, 19, from Ashton, whose daughter Mia is nine months old, says: “Carolyn made me aware of the contraceptive implant and told me all about it. If she hadn’t explained it I probably wouldn’t have used any contraception after Mia was born. She is a good person to text or ring if you have any questions or queries as she always gets back to you.”

Inspired by Carolyn’s work, Elizabeth now wants to become a midwife herself. Carolyn began practising midwifery in Wigan in 1988. Today she occupies three separate part-time jobs as the Teenage Pregnancy midwife, a family planning nurse and a midwife.  

In 2007, she was awarded a BSc (Hons) in Sexual Reproduction Healthcare from the University of Central Lancashire and she also successfully completed a contraceptive implant insertion and removal course. 

Carolyn says: “Most of the teenagers I meet are aware of what contraception is but have taken a risk and not used it. The vast majority are interested in what I have to say and just chatting about contraception makes them think about it more carefully.

“Unfortunately, young mums are looked down upon in our society. I get a lot of satisfaction from doing something to reduce health inequalities and to improve services.”

Carolyn is now looking to reduce repeat teenage pregnancies further by setting up a new teenage postnatal contraception ‘stepping-stone’ service, providing one-to-one advice and contraception initiation to all mothers under 18 in the post natal period, including the insertion of contraceptive implants if desired by the mother.
Teen mums hail caring Carolyn (cont.)
The Teenage Pregnancy Midwife post is part of the Young Parents’ Support Team. The multi-agency virtual team includes representatives from all the key agencies aiming to reduce teenage pregnancy locally including the Wigan Teenage Pregnancy Reintegration Service, Connexions, Surestart, Wigan Council, Ashton, Wigan and Leigh Primary Care Trust and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust. 
To find out more about the work of the Young Parents’ Support Team or the Wigan Teenage Pregnancy Team telephone (01942) 828918.