Pioneering Collaborative Private Maternity Care: Continuity, woman-centered, personalised, safe.

Our brand new model of care – launched for the first time in Australia – has recently welcomed its third baby. So far, three families have benefited from a collaborative model of private maternity care that enables women to have care with a private midwife (with Medicare funding) and also develop a trusting and nurturing relationship with a Specialist Obstetrician who is available for the pregnancy, labour and birth. Our service has so far supported an empowered birth after caesarean, a waterbirth and a natural birth. All within a hospital setting, with all the support available that is occasionally needed.

We’ve received some really positive feedback:

“The collaborative model seemed unique to me. To have a private midwife and our own birth experience but in a hospital with an obstetrician who was known to us as back-up in case of unexpected complications, allowed us to feel totally comfortable and confident for our first baby.” “I felt entirely supported and encouraged.” “A highly personalised level of care was offered which makes you feel listened to and allows time for lots of questions.” “I liked the fact that we got time to develop a relationship and feel comfortable together, allowing us a better birth experience. Postnatally, it was nice to have the same person continuing my care. It was highly personalised.”

Our model sees women booking with me for their care. Women who are interested in having collaborative maternity care meet with the obstetrician early in their pregnancy and again between 32 and 36 weeks. Women see the obstetrician more often if additional visits with him are needed. Otherwise, I am in frequent communication with him and we work together to provide safe, evidence-based, woman-centered care to our pregnant women. This allows women to build a sense of connection, trust and continuity.

We support natural birth, active birth, physiological birth positions, physiological third stage, water birth, VBAC, twin births, breech births … and so on. Women are really well prepared for natural birth with an emphasis on informed decision making and woman-centered care. Childbirth education is included, as well as access to a lending library of books and DVDs.

Birth care is provided initially at home and then we move to hospital where I provide full midwifery care. The birth is attended by myself and the Obstetrician if needed / desired. It’s an intimate, calm, peaceful experience and facilitates a gentle and safe birth.

After we have welcomed the baby and birthed the placenta, women generally stay in hospital for 4 – 24 hours before returning home. Of course, if there are any issues women are welcome to stay longer, but generally I find that women feel more comfortable in their own homes, in their own beds. I visit at home every day for a week and continue care for 6 weeks. Since women book into hospital as a private patient, they are almost assured a private room with an en-suite.

I’m really excited about this model of care because it meets the needs of women so perfectly:

  • Women having their first babies, maybe feeling unsure of what to expect
  • Women who previously experienced dis-continuous care from care providers who were unknown to them
  • Women who are planning a natural birth but perhaps with a more challenging pregnancy
  • Women who want a home birth / birth centre birth but with a known obstetrician available if needed
  • Women who really desire a sense of control over their birthing experience

This is a new way of working for both midwives and obstetricians and is a really supportive and nurturing way to practice. There is a huge potential for professional growth and learning. The most positive element, however, is the radiant smiles on the faces of the women who have birthed with us and the babies who have received a safe and gentle start to life.