Continuity of Midwifery Care Undervalued

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/19/2496020.htm For further information, please contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting.

By Ged Kearney and Barbara Vernon

Feb 19, 2009 2:31pm

Midwifery models of care are about women being cared for by a health professional they get to know and trust. When a woman arrives at hospital in labour, who do you think will do an assessment, care for the woman and deliver her baby? If you ask most women they will tell you this person was a midwife, because in most cases the birthing experience is normal despite the rising rate of Caesarean sections ...

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises midwives as the most appropriate and cost-effective health care professionals to manage a normal pregnancy and birth. Australia continues to ignore recommendations of the WHO and doesn't fully recognise the extensive professional skills and education of midwives ...

The ... Maternity Services Review Report is an opportunity to recognise and develop the contribution of Australia's excellent midwifery workforce. The Australian Nursing Federation and Australian College of Midwives agree the review must reflect the findings and recommendations of evidence based research and reports.

In 2008 the Cochrane review found the available international studies support the notion that all pregnant women should be offered midwifery models of care. But ... this ... does not mean ... that women are cared for by midwives instead of doctors. [The skill of a midwife is] in recognising if and when a doctor might be needed ...

The government's discussion paper ... recognised that continuity of midwifery care ... is as safe as traditional fragmented hospital care ... midwifery care brings a range of tangible benefits including: greater preparation for birth; shorter labours, a reduction in interventions during labour; reduced need for caesarean section; lower rates of admission to special care nurseries, reduced health care costs; and better support for early parenting. Overall women report increased satisfaction with their care, greater self confidence after the birth of their child, and reduced vulnerability to post natal depression.

So why is it still so hard for Australia to accept that this is the best way for the majority of babies to be born? Why are we so far behind other developed countries with our Caesarean section rates at 10 per cent higher than the OECD and 20 per cent higher than those recommended by the WHO?

... The Maternity Services Review is an excellent opportunity to improve access to quality maternity care in Australia and to bring us up to the standard of care available to women in many other OECD countries ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting.