Continuity of midwifery carer under-valued?

An article published three years ago asked, "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." "Australia continues to ignore recommendations of the WHO and doesn't fully recognise the extensive professional skills and education of midwives; skills that allow hospitals and birth centres to leave the birthing of most of the nation's babies in their capable hands."

in 2009, the Federal Government's initiated a Maternity Services Review which made several recommendations for continuity of carer models, access to the MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule) and PBS (pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule) for midwives, together with midwife admitting rights.  These recommendations would being private midwives greater autonomy to care for their private patients within a hospital setting, along with Medicare benefits for services provided and the ability to order diagnostic tests and prescribe medications.

Midwifery models of care, such as private midwifery care, are about women being cared for by a health professional who they get to know and trust.  Most women who are birthing through the general hospital system will meet as many as thirty care providers from the very first booking-in appointment through to discharge from hospital after the baby is born.  Even within the private hospital system, women still see many care providers: their obstetrician, as well as many midwives during the standard four- or five-day stay.

The Maternity Services Review recognised that continuity of midwifery carer through pregnancy, birth and in the postnatal / new baby period is safe.  There are many other benefits to having your own midwife: lower rates of unnecessary intervention, a more positive and empowering birth experience, greater preparation for birth, a shorter labour, higher breastfeeding rates, and better support during the new parenting period. Overall, women who are cared for by one midwife report increased satisfaction with their care, greater self confidence after the birth of their child and reduced vulnerability to post natal depression.

Learn more about private midwifery care and antenatal shared care