This World Health Day Ruth Dearnley, CEO of Birth for Humankind – a Melbourne-based not-for-profit providing community pregnancy and parenting support – is calling for greater understanding and support for pregnant women experiencing disadvantage, saying the recent COVID-19 healthcare restrictions reflect the pre-pandemic reality for many women.
“These next few months will prove challenging for many pregnant women, with many hospitals adopting a ‘one visitor per patient’ policy or encouraging women to attend out-patient appointments alone. However, we must realise that this is the norm for many pregnant women across Victoria, let alone Australia,” said Ms Dearnley.
“World Health Day is our opportunity to look at the post COVID-19 world. Before the pandemic, only 8% of women in Australia had seen the same maternity worker throughout their maternal care. For many socially and economically disadvantaged or socially isolated women, this often means they have no known, trusted birth companion - which puts them at increased risk of poor health outcomes and postnatal anxiety and depression.
International research shows that continuous support, whether a family member, friend or partner, has positive health indicators for both mum and bub. However, not everyone has access to these; some women go through pregnancy without a partner, some have no family in Australia, many don’t have a strong support network.
That’s why our doulas are so important, they provide a friendly, familiar face to support women through pregnancy, birth and parenting, so they can make empowered decisions that best suit their unique or complex needs.
Coming out of this pandemic, we will all have some understanding of how crippling isolation can be. We must invest in community support programs now, such as doulas, to ensure that pregnant women across Australia do not have to experience this isolation, anxiety and unhealthy stress throughout their pregnancy, birth and early parenting.”
Julia Macerola on 0422 337 332 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Birth for Humankind
Birth for Humankind is a Melbourne-based not-for-profit that aims to achieve equitable maternal health and wellbeing for all by providing and advocating for respectful pregnancy, birth and early parenting support for women experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage. To support Birth for Humankind’s essential support programs, please visit https://birthforhumankind.org/donate