Women share experiences of receiving maternity care during COVID-19 in Australia

on 08 July 2021

Women have shared their experiences of receiving maternity care in Australia as part of a cross-sectional national survey.

3,364 women responded to the survey which found “Women felt distressed and alone due to rapid changes to their maternity care. Limited face-to-face contact with health practitioners and altered models of care often required women to accommodate significant changes and to coordinate their own care”.

Women also felt they were “doing it alone” due to health care restrictions, while some women cited some benefits to the restrictions such as more time to rest, breastfeeding establishment, and bonding with their baby.

The study found that 95 per cent had received support from a partner during pregnancy and birth, 33 per cent said they had received support from family and friends, with 8 per cent citing a doula or other birth worker as their support person during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2 per cent said they were going through pregnancy and birth on their own.

71 per cent of respondents said they gave birth or are planning to in a public or private hospital, 3 per cent said at home and 3 per cent said in a birth centre.

77 per cent of women said that during the COVID-19 pandemic they received multiple modes of antenatal care, including face-to-face. 49 per cent per cent received care via telephone, 9.2 per cent through home visits, and 8 per cent by video call.

32 per cent of women said their birth plan had changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 42 per cent were allowed their support person of choice at the birth and 9 per cent were able to have any visitors they wanted during their postnatal stay.

In the research conclusion it said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to multiple changes to maternity care in Australia that occurred at an unparalleled pace and scale. The women at the center of this care have experienced great uncertainty and potential disruptions to their pregnancy, birth, and postnatal experience. We found that women felt distressed and alone as a result of these changes.”

The study ‘Australian women’s experiences of receiving maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional national survey’ is open access and can be found here.