real life

'I see hundreds of homeless pregnant women every year. But that's not what breaks my heart the most.'

Pregnancy can be one of the most physically and emotionally testing times in a woman's life. 

But picture this — you're in the midst of a pregnancy, while also in crisis. For lots of women, the nature of that crisis varies. It could be financial pressures, mental health, relationship woes, unemployment or underemployment, homelessness, domestic violence — the list goes on. 

The sheer stress and pressure on that woman's shoulders can be a lot to bear on her own.

Jennifer Gurry has seen the challenges so many Aussie mothers-to-be are facing while living in crisis. So she decided to try to do something about it. 

Watch: Parenting 101. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia. 

When Jenny was 16, her mum told her she'd conceived her while in Russia — and it had been a very overwhelming time.

"Mum told me that when she first found out she was pregnant, the doctor's first response was: 'You don't need to have it'. She immediately felt the pressure, as at the time she wasn't married," Jenny told Mamamia


It was a story that stuck with her for a long time. 

As the years went on, Jenny began to notice just how few resources were available to expectant mums living in crisis. So she decided to create Diamond Women, an organisation that provides compassionate care, professional support and counselling to assist women and their families facing an unplanned pregnancy. 

Those services can range from information on options, to pregnancy support, counselling, advocacy, material assistance, referrals, a mentorship or parenting program, and guidance from counsellors, doulas, case workers and more.

"I've been doing this work for 16 years now and it still brings a tear to my eye when I think of the women I've met and the stories I've heard," Jenny says.

The hundreds of women Jenny has met over the years have all been dealing with a complex challenge of some sort. But what underpins all of their stories, across demographics, socio-economic status and nationality, is that they feel lonely — and don't have girlfriends for support.

This is what breaks Jenny's heart the most.

"So many of these women say they don't have girlfriends. These women come to us feeling super abandoned by friends. Often it's a case of conflict regarding views on abortion, leaving the woman feeling as though she is between a rock and a hard place — regardless of which option she is thinking about or ends up choosing," Jenny explains. 


She has also seen cases of the male partner pressuring the woman to have an abortion. 

"Pressuring a woman to have an abortion doesn't classify as support. If anything, there's often a lot of coercion behind it. What true support means is showing the woman all the options available to them, letting them make that choice and letting them know you will be there for them no matter what option they choose."

For pregnant women who have ended up homeless, there are a multitude of factors that could be behind it. Often, it's international students, refugees, asylum seekers or anyone fleeing domestic and family violence that Jenny sees the most on the streets or in crisis accommodation. 

"So many of these women have either been ghosted by their partners, or forced to flee. And when it comes to their girlfriends, they're busy with their own life or back away. It's just heartbreaking," Jenny tells Mamamia

"One woman we've been helping was in a relationship with a guy and discovered he had got another women pregnant at the same time as her. After their relationship suddenly ended, she was then on the brink of homelessness. She had been out of the workforce for a number of years, her self-esteem was low and it snowballed from there."

Now, this woman is on the right path and getting the support she needs to make a fresh start.

Jenny says helping mums in need is one of her favourite parts of her work. Image: Supplied. 


Another woman who received assistance from Diamond Women is *Marie. 

She had gone on a holiday back to her home country for a few weeks, and upon returning found that her husband had left her with divorce papers and vacated their rental. She was then left completely confused, financially vulnerable and soon realised she was 10 weeks pregnant with her now ex-husband's child. 


To make matters even more challenging, Marie's hours work hours were cut down when her company found out she she was expecting. 

"She was in a really tough spot," Jenny reflects. "She was beginning to experience homelessness due to a lack of income. We managed to get her a bunch of support in terms of access to food hampers, financial support and more, and she told us she felt a lot more secure going into motherhood having the backing she now had."

The same goes for *Sally.

Sally went on a holiday to Fiji aged 19 and unexpectedly fell pregnant to a man over there. He turned out to be married and wanted nothing to do with her or the baby. Sally then returned to Australia, and her parents kicked her out when she told them she was pregnant, leaving her homeless and alone. 

"I still remember how scared Sally was. Six months after giving birth, we worked with her to figure out her future goals, and she said she really wanted to get into hospitality. We practiced interview skills with her, got her resumé sorted and paid for her waitressing uniform, as well as sorting out baby goods," says Jenny.

"This was years ago. I received an email from her recently saying she had fulfilled her dream of being an Air Stewardess. It still makes me tear up whenever I think of these women we've met and where they are now."

Ultimately, it's doing the work like this that reminds Jenny why friendship is so crucial. 


"I would implore everyone to check on their friends, keep those connections strong and remember that friendship means being around for the sticky bits."

The irony is that a lot of this work helping expectant and new mothers falls on the shoulders of not-for-profits, grassroots charities and organisations. But for Jenny, she says that despite how challenging the circumstances can sometimes be, making a tangible difference in a woman's life is one of the best feelings of them all. 

"For so many of these women, they've never been given the guidance they deserve. We ask them what they want, we help them weigh up their options, find out what support they need, who is championing them, and more. We want to relieve their anxiety as much as possible," Jenny notes. 

"Lots of these women are lacking hope, dealing with issues a lot of us have not had to face before. But I want them to know that there is hope. If one woman feels less alone, knows they have options and a glimmer of light amid the overwhelming darkness, then we're doing our job right."

To see the support services Diamond Women offers, you can find out more here. If you would like to donate towards the services that Diamond Women provides, you can do that here

*Some names have been changed for privacy reasons. Their identities are known to Jennifer Gurry.

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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