Skip to main content


Healthcare practitioners currently lack evidence-based guidance for supporting Autistic women during the pre and postnatal period. Initial research suggests that Autistic women face challenges during this period such as heightened sensory issues, increased risk of prenatal depression and anxiety, and a higher likelihood of experiencing a caesarean section, along with lower satisfaction with the prenatal experience. These experiences differ from those of non-Autistic individuals, making it important to study this specific group.

Women with disabilities, including autism, face an elevated risk of coexisting health conditions during pregnancy, leading to poorer maternal and infant outcomes compared to those without disabilities. These women are more susceptible to complications like hypertension, diabetes and preterm birth. Given the communication challenges many Autistic adults encounter with healthcare professionals, the struggle to receive proper care can result in ongoing physical and mental health issues.

What are the experiences of Autistic women during pregnancy and in early parenthood? How can healthcare practitioners provide more effective support to women during this time?

The research

APEX – Autistic Pregnancy and Early Parenthood Experiences and Support – is a team of Autistic and non-Autistic researchers, practitioners and advisors that is exploring how to provide better healthcare experiences and support for Autistic women in pregnancy and early parenthood.

We are currently interviewing pregnant Autistic women and women who have been pregnant in the last five years. Findings from these interviews will be shared in the second half of 2024.

Making a difference

An outcome of this research will be a digital hub of resources for Autistic women and practitioners around pregnancy and early parenthood experiences.

Research team

Dr Abbey Love, Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice (ARCAP)

Dr Ru Ying Cai, ARCAP

Dr Chris Edwards, ARCAP

Dr Vicki Gibbs, ARCAP

Charlie Benzie, La Trobe University

Cherise Smith, The Royal Women's Hospital

Prof Della Forster, La Trobe University

Bronwyn Rideout, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington






This project is funded by the Victorian State Government (FR-14372) Diverse Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Grants Program as well as the auDA Foundation 2023 Community Grants.

Related item