Sarah Khaw

Thesis title

Community-based doulas’ and health care providers’ perspectives and experiences working together to support migrant women in maternity settings.

Description of PhD Project

Migrant women birthing in Australia have known lower maternal health outcomes and birth satisfaction when compared to Australian-born women. Research suggests this could be due to numerous factors such as: language barriers, socioeconomic hardship, limited social support networks and limited access to known providers (e.g. midwives, doctors) in labour and birth.

Community-based doulas may be a response to bridge these limitations in maternity services. Community based doulas are non-medical persons, trained to provide continuous emotional, physical and social support throughout a woman’s pregnancy, labour and birth and postnatal period. Clients of these doulas may share the same race and/or culture as their doulas or be experiencing financial hardship. Australian research on both community-based doula support for migrant women and relationships between these doulas and health care providers are limited. This study will explore: the relationship between community-based doulas from Birth for Humankind and providers  when supporting migrant women; how community-based doulas may provide culturally-responsive care for migrant women; and explore support factors in strengthening community-based doula programs. A systematic review exploring community-based doulas for migrant women in high-income countries and qualitative interpretative phenomenological interviews of Birth for Humankind community-based doulas, health providers and managers will be conducted.


Associate Professor Meghan Bohren

Professor Caroline Homer

Dr Shahinoor Akter


Sarah is a PhD candidate in the Nossal Institute for Global Health's Gender and Women’s Health unit. Her background as a midwife, experience as a qualitative research assistant and Master of Public graduate has allowed her to pursue her interests in migrant and refugee women’s health.


University of Melbourne Human Rights Scholarship

Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship

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