Birth for HumanKind


International Women’s Day

An opportunity to improve maternal health care outcomes for vulnerable women
A Mother Carrying Her Baby

Birth for Humankind, a Melbourne-based non-profit providing community pregnancy and parenting support, is calling for greater support for vulnerable and disadvantaged women through the maternal health system this International Women’s Day.

Birth for Humankind CEO, Ruth Dearnley, says that International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight the issues Australian women are facing, particularly with regards to pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to not only celebrate the achievements of women, but identify ongoing issues we are facing today and take proactive steps to address them. In Australia, many women experiencing social and economic disadvantage are going through pregnancy, birth and parenthood alone and not receiving the support they need,” said Ms Dearnley.

“Motherhood can be such an exciting and wonderful process. When we care for mothers and ensure they have support, we often see positive outcomes for both mum and bub. However, the reality is that only 8% of pregnant women in Australia see the same maternity worker during their pregnancy.

“That’s where we step in. Birth for Humankind is known for its doula support program – a complementary service in the maternal health care system. Our doulas provide continuous emotional and practical support, alongside social workers and midwives, to help vulnerable women navigate the complexities of pregnancy and have positive experiences and outcomes.”

At age 19, Carly moved to Victoria shortly after her mother passed away, started a new relationship and fell pregnant. She described her life as “going down a dark path” during this time. She’s one of many women who go through pregnancy alone – without a support network to turn to – particularly young women, homeless women and those who have recently arrived in Australia without the language skills needed to seek help.

Carly’s social worker suggested she might benefit from a doula, a role which was filled by Birth for Humankind Founder, Mei Lai Swan. With Mei Lai by her side, Carly gave birth to a healthy baby boy and was able to grow from the many challenges she had faced during her life. The two women both realised the need for doulas in the healthcare system for disadvantaged and vulnerable women. Mei Lai went on to create Birth for Humankind, and Carly served as a board director with the organisation and co-facilitated child birth education programs for young pregnant women.

“We must talk about this need, otherwise vulnerable women will continue to face this health inequality. Through discussion and awareness, we will be able to care for these women and give their babies the strongest possible start in life,” said Ms Dearnley.


Media contact: Julia Macerola on 0422 337 332 or

About Birth for Humankind

Birth for Humankind is a Melbourne not-for-profit dedicated to fostering healthy families and communities by providing mother centred support, education and holistic care throughout pregnancy, birth and after the baby comes.

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