Birth for HumanKind


Accessing maternity services during COVID-19

Financial hardship and additional barriers for women experiencing disadvantage during pregnancy and early parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic
Pregnant Woman Holding Her Baby Bump

Birth for Humankind, a Melbourne not-for-profit dedicated to supporting pregnant women experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, are calling for donations for a new program in response to COVID-19 – a ride-share service for clients experiencing financial hardship so that they can safely get to hospital appointments.

Ruth Dearnley, CEO of Birth for Humankind, says that due to the COVID-19 pandemic pregnant women are facing more barriers to accessing maternal health care services.

“Under normal circumstances, pregnant women experiencing social and financial hardship face a range of barriers which prevent them from accessing maternity clinical care. Over the past weeks, we’ve seen an increase in barriers preventing our clients from going to antenatal and postnatal appointments due to COVID-19,” said Ms Dearnley.

Some of these new barriers include public childbirth education classes and most home-based visits from health workers being cancelled, Melbourne hospitals implementing a policy of only one support person during labour and birth, and most critically a fear of using public transport and lack of access to alternative transportation methods.

Birth for Humankind reports that fewer clients are accessing clinical care and attending antenatal or postnatal appointments due to these unfamiliar settings and protocols, a lack of personal support and concerns about being in public settings. This poses significant risks for their long-term maternal and child health outcomes.

“We don’t know how long this pandemic will last. What we do know is that most of our clients are unable to access essential services and care during their pregnancy and after birth during this pandemic. We need to raise $4,000 per month which will provide safe transportation to approximately 40 women experiencing financial hardship during pregnancy and after birth” said Ms Dearnley.

“We’re in discussions with women-oriented ride sharing services so that our clients will be more comfortable and confident in engaging with the service. Our aim is to remove the barriers that block our clients from accessing essential care, so we’re looking at options such as female drivers, child seats and if possible, drivers who speak the same language as our clients.

“We need this now. We urgently need the community to donate what they can so that these women can get to hospital-based appointments safely and with confidence. Without it, mothers and babies are put at risk.”

Birth for Humankind are also continuing to provide one-to-one doula support through video and phone calls, with limited face-to-face contact. This ensures their clients have continuous support from a trusted, independent companion.

International research shows that a birth companion, such as a doula, improves birth experiences and maternal and child health outcomes, when complimenting clinical maternity care.

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Media contacts:

Julia Macerola on 0422 337 332 or

Jackie Hanafie on 0412 652 439 or

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.

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