Maternity units led by midwives 'just as safe'

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Maternity units led by midwives are just as safe for mothers and babies as those where obstetricians are in control ...

... At a midwife-led unit, women are helped through their labour by [midwives] and they cater for patients who show no signs of difficulty in giving birth naturally, referring any problems to an obstetrician if necessary.

When the woman starts labour, she goes to the midwife-led unit ... and is welcomed into a private room where she stays for the labour, birth and postnatal resting time.

A consultant-led unit is staffed by obstetricians and and midwives, offering full pain relief cover such as epidurals.

... The number of babies needing resuscitation at birth or admission to the special care baby unit was the same in both groups. 60% of women in the consultant-led unit had their baby's heartbeat monitored continuously in labour by an electronic monitoring machine, compared to 38% of women in midwife-led units. Almost half the women in the doctor-led units had their labour speeded up by having their waters broken or having oxytocin, a hormone given intravenously by drip, compared to a third of those in the other. Up to 85% of women in the midwife-led unit said they would recommend it, compared to 70% of those having the traditional care.

Although the facilities in the midwife-led unit were "luxurious", the cost per patient was €332 less than in the traditional hospital system.

... 83% of women in the midwife-led units expressed satisfaction with their pain relief, compared with 68% of women in the consultant-led unit.

... "Midwifery-led care has potential to provide greater choice for the majority of low-risk women, better continuity of personal antenatal care and a more satisfying birth experience."...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448