Maternity system needs an overhaul - obstetricians

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Australia's maternity system needs to provide better care so pregnant women feel confident giving birth in hospital and not at home, obstetricians say.

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Homebirth Australia secretary Justine Caines said infant deaths after homebirth would increase unless the federal government offered funding support.

The government's maternity services review, released in February, rejected commonwealth funds for homebirth and said professional indemnity cover for ... homebirth would be limited.

"If you think that there's been four deaths ... from free birth ... what's going to happen when there is no option of homebirth for any woman?" Caines said.

"If that's the case ... that is very, very serious and I'd be saying very clearly to (Health) Minister (Nicola) Roxon, look out for some more unless you want to appropriately support registered midwives."

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Dr. Pesce said the government should focus on improving the continuity of care for pregnant women in hospitals ... "They should be focussing on a system which provides continuative care, so women get to know the midwife and the doctor who is going to be looking after them," he said.

"As opposed to now ... Women might see 12 or 13 different people during the pregnancy."

- I disagree with Dr Pesce's statement about women getting to know the midwife and doctor, primarily because for the vast majority of women, medical care need not form a part of their pregnancy care.

The article raises excellent points about the current maternity system that provides fragmented care that is not safe. Continuity of care from a registered midwife is known to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and this must be promoted as the standard form of care.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting.