Australia’s largest birthing study calls for diverse perspectives

As part of a new national study exploring the birthing experiences of women over the last five years, Western Sydney University researchers are calling for women across Australia to contribute their stories.

‘The Birth Experience Survey’ is a collaboration with the Birth Time Movement and will explore the impact of care on women’s birthing experiences. It will also determine the factors contributing to positive and negative experiences and assess the prevalence, levels and impact of birth trauma on women and their families.

The research team is encouraging women from diverse backgrounds, including those who speak a language other than English to participate, with the survey now available in seven languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, Hindi, Persian, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Research lead Dr Hazel Keedle from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University said as one of the largest studies in Australia, it’s essential for the survey to capture the maternity experiences of as many women as possible.

“Women all have unique birthing experiences and stories. As part of our study, we’re hoping to connect with a range of women, including those from our diverse communities,” said Dr Keedle.

Dr Keedle highlighted the 2019 Australia Mothers and Babies report which showed that 36 per cent of women birthing in Australia were themselves born in another country.

“We really want to hear from women from different parts of our community about their experiences during pregnancy, birthing and post-birth, such as access to interpreters and their interactions with midwives and doctors,” said Dr Keedle.

Study co-author Professor Hannah Dahlen AM, who is also from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, explained that birthing experiences can impact women and their families for the rest of their lives.

“Sadly, not all experiences are positive and the study will explore themes of birthing trauma to ensure we can understand the experiences of women and better support them in the future,” said Professor Dahlen.

“It’s through learning about women’s experiences and giving them a voice, that we can highlight and advocate for improvement of services.”

The Birth Experience Survey follows the acclaimed 'Birth Time: the Documentary' created by Selina Scoble, Jerusha Sutton, Jo Hunter and Zoe Naylor, which compares the birth experiences of Australian mothers.

To date, the survey has attracted over 7,000 responses with participants also having the opportunity to tell their story through an audio or video recording. Results from the study are expected in 2022.

To complete the survey, including to view it in language, please visit the web page (opens in a new window).

You can also stay up to date with the study via its Facebook page (opens in a new window).

ENDS

13 October 2021

Ali Sardyga, Senior Media Officer