Young Mum’s To Be (YMTB) is a programme pioneered by Prospect Training Services (PTS) which helps young mothers not only prepare for the realities of pregnancy, childbirth and childcare, but also provides them with valuable skills and qualifications to enhance their lives in the present and future.
A graduate from Prospect’s Young Mum’s To Be programme over 12 years ago, it was a privilege for us to catch up with Susan at her home in Cheltenham, and find out all the amazing things she has been up to since. Susan speaks with a wisdom beyond her years about the situation she found herself in, at 15 and pregnant in the midst of her GCSEs. Fighting against the stigma she was all too aware of, Susan (28) became determined to continue to achieve in life. “When you’re pregnant as a teenager,” she comments, “you’ve got a lot of people being quite negative towards you, saying things like ‘you’ve wasted your life’. I was adamant I wasn’t going to do that.” Now married with three children (Taylor, 12, Zak, 6 and Elise, 3) Susan works as a midwifery assistant, with exciting things on the horizon of her career. She understands that being a good mum means leading by example – having ambition, for yourself, and for your family. Read below how the YMTB course with PTS supported Susan get on track for success.
Favourite film? Armageddon, the first film we watched together
Where would most like to live in the world? Cornwall, where we got engaged
What were you doing before you joined Young Mums To Be?
I was at school doing my GCSE’s and then I went straight from school to the Young Mum’s To Be as I was already pregnant.
What are some of your hobbies and interests? What are you excited to talk about with your friends and family?
My future career but also my past, as a young mum is important to me. There’s a lot of stigma attached to young mums so the fact that I am still with Taylor’s dad and that we’re married with two other children, that we are okay, it’s something I like to talk about to others. Just recently I also completed my Higher Access course which means I’ll be going onto to study midwifery next year, and I hope to take my experience with me.
Could you tell us a bit about the YMTB course you completed?
I was 16 years old at the time and it was three days a week. We were compensated to attend and if you didn’t go, you didn’t get paid, so it felt like you were working and quite grown up at the time. They taught us everything from how to handle money and nutrition for the baby, relationships and domestic violence, to the labour and delivery... You were constantly kept focused on your pregnancy and your appointments. We were even told about what Vitamin K is, and about procedures such as epidurals, episiotomies, which actually prepared me really well because it turns out I needed an episiotomy. It made you aware of what parenting is about and it’s something you remember forever. Who knows where I would have been today or what sort of mum I’d be without it.
I’d definitely recommend YMTB. It was twelve years ago, but it’s something I’ve taken with me over my whole journey of being a mum and something that I will carry on taking. The friends that you meet and the support that you get is amazing. You need that as a teenage mum when you’re so vulnerable. You don’t know what’s going to happen and it’s scary, but it can work, and me and my partner are married now after 15 years together with three lovely children and couldn’t be happier.
What made you chose this Prospect course over college or employment?
I remember being pregnant during my GCSE exams. [The staff] had to take me to the toilet because I was being sick, and you could tell there were really disappointed in you; you felt like you had failed. At YMTB, you didn’t feel that way. It felt like a normal mum’s group. I didn’t feel I was treated differently just for being a young mum.
My mum initiated me first going – she didn’t know what to do with me. She didn’t want me sat at home on income support, jobseekers or anything like that – I was even still waiting for my GCSE results. I wouldn’t have been able to have gotten a job, 16 and pregnant, and I couldn’t start a college course because I was due to deliver in February, so my mum went via PTS to see what I could be doing. I wasn’t keen at first because I thought ‘oh it’s going to be pile of young mums’. It sounds strange but I was scared of being stereotyped as a young mum, even though I was one. But, I went across to have a look and meet the leaders, and I started the week after.
Had you seen anything similar out there?
No nothing at all. I didn’t have any options till I heard about the course.
How did YMTB live up to your expectations?
The support I received was invaluable. The things they taught you were so good, I still remember them even now. If I’m having bad days with the children, you go back to what you learnt in the beginning and you appreciate how fantastic the course was.
Can you think of any ways were your tutor went the extra mile?
At the time, I was going through quite a difficult period with Taylor’s dad – we were on and off, as you are when you’re teenagers. Sally, my tutor, was really supportive and always said ‘do whatever makes you happy’. She was always there for you. If I was having a down day where I hadn’t slept because I was worrying about my relationship, the fact that Taylor’s dad might not be around, she was always there to say, ‘you can do this on your own’. I felt like I could do it then, you just needed someone to tell you. As it turns out, I didn’t need to, because he was there, and still is.
What are you most proud of in yourself during your time with YMTB?
Completing it was a big achievement for me, because I really didn’t think I would in the beginning! I didn’t know what to expect, it was all a big shock really. Doing that and bringing Taylor up to be a lovely girl is my biggest achievement.
What was the biggest benefit to you from doing the course?
Everything they taught me, I was willing to take on, because I wanted to be a good mum. I made plans for the future, increased my confidence and took a lot from it. I didn’t want Taylor to be looked after by anyone else, I wanted to do it, and do it well. Now, because I work in maternity, I have that empathy with other mums and I’m aware that there’s support out there for them to get help. Ultimately, my dream is to be a midwife for teenagers, to help young mums go through similar things I went through. I don’t think I would have realised that, had it not been for the course. We talked about careers and I was always saying I’d love to be a midwife, because I had such a great relationship with my own midwife at the time. I always thought, her job just seems so nice, and obviously, it’s not always nice, I’m aware of that now. But it’s something I realised that I had always wanted to do from quite young age.
I think everything happens for a reason, and last year I had to have a hysterectomy so, for me, being a teenage mum was meant to be. If I didn’t have Taylor then, I might not of had any children now and be stuck without the choice.
What are you up to now?
I’ve just completed a Higher Access course last July. I have all the grades I need to get into University, so I’ll be applying this year to do midwifery. In three years’ time, I should be well on my way to being a midwife. The Higher Access course was tough, with three kids and working nights as a community care assistant. Doing it alongside that and home life, I had no free time! I literally didn’t get a spare minute to do anything, but it was so worth it because now I have what I need to go on and do what I want to do with my life. My kids are getting older now and it’s time to do what I want to do with my career.
Sally Cope was Susan’s tutor at Young Mum’s To Be. Read her interview here in our Meet the Tutor's section.
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