The Safe Maternal Delivery Program addresses the overwhelming need to provide antenatal care and safe in-hospital delivery for pregnant mothers in sex work (MSW), given our 2019 study findings that maternal deaths account for nearly two-thirds of all causes of death among MSW. Many MSW who are pregnant cannot afford the associated costs of antenatal care and in-hospital delivery [registration, transportation (to antenatal care visits and to hospital for delivery), delivery pack/supplies (antiseptic, razor, cloth, etc.), childcare (for mother’s other children while mother is in hospital)]. Our pilot program seeks to facilitate safe deliveries for mothers and their newborns in collaboration with our local partners in Nigeria.
Due to the global food crisis and rising inflation, many moms struggle to feed themselves and their children, a primary driver of why many mothers enter sex work in the first place. Reliable access to food is particularly important for mothers who are pregnant, have young children, or have HIV/AIDS. Mothers with HIV/AIDS who do not have food cannot take their antiretroviral medications to treat their HIV/AIDS due to the overwhelming side effects of the drugs when taken in absence of food. Our program seeks to facilitate access to reliable and nutritious food and cooking supplies for mothers and their children in collaboration with our local partners.
The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in Kampala, Uganda provides education, food, and a safe physical and emotional environment for the vulnerable children of mothers in sex work. This center, run by our partner organization, Rhythm of Life, is a crucial lifeline for these children by providing valuable resources that help them feel more connected to their community. Throughout our research, mothers in sex work continue to emphasize that education and childcare support for their children are their top priorities, along with finding alternative income sources, making this center an essential source of support for local mothers in sex work.
Provision of mental health services to MSW is imperative, particularly those in the perinatal period (referring to both before and after childbirth). In collaboration with our local partners and subject matter experts, we are working to roll-out direct mental health interventions for those experiencing pre- and post-partum depression.
In Portland, Oregon, we have operated Our Mother’s House since 2007, a program for women who have been trafficked, who are in sex work and are pregnant, or who are mothers and their children. We help women to secure prenatal care, health services for their children, food, and clothing. Our objective is to empower and support women and their children in the Portland metro area, and to help create similar programs in other cities.