Midwifery Continuity of Care benefits everyone
Midwifery Continuity of Care (CoC) is the evidence based, gold standard of care for mothers and babies and the additional benefits to the midwifery workforce are now clear.
Midwifery Continuity of Care is understood to be the gold standard of maternity care in Australia. As well as costing the health system less, outcomes for mothers and babies are better across most significant measures;
- Women are more likely to have a normal birth,
- Women are less likely to experience unnecessary intervention (Caesarean section rate has risen from 32% in 2010 to 37% in 2020)1
- Babies are more likely to be born healthy and at term
- Women are more likely to have a positive experience of labour and birth and to be satisfied with the experience
- Women are more likely to breastfeed successfully
And now the benefits of midwifery CoC for the midwifery workforce are clear too.
There has been more attention on failures within the maternity care system of late. Most jurisdictions are facing staff shortages and workforce retention issues with midwives battling burn out, low job satisfaction, poor workplace culture and safety concerns2.
Midwives working in CoC models such as Midwifery Group Practices (MGP) and privately practicing midwives (PPM) where they can support women through their entire pregnancy up until 6 weeks post birth, experience much greater job satisfaction and are able to remain in the workforce longer, with these models of care providing more flexibility around their own family commitments, than a hospital-based roster.
The establishment of more MGPs or increased support and resourcing of existing MGP’s and PPM’s would be a sensible way to provide women in rural and regional areas with culturally appropriate, safe, evidence-based care, close to home. ACM supports midwives working to their full scope of practice with the support of the hospital’s multidisciplinary team of care providers when required.
ACM is aware of several hospitals in Queensland experiencing a maternity service or birthing bypass due to a shortage of doctors, resulting in mothers and babies having to travel to the nearest major centre to birth, often hundreds of kilometres away. A collaborative approach and a timely resolution of this issue is vital for the safety and wellbeing of mothers and babies as well as the midwives and medical staff working in maternity care.
ACM Chief Midwife, Alison Weatherstone, is clear about the importance of a fundamental shift to promoting midwifery leadership and midwifery led continuity of care as the baseline standard of maternity care in Australia. “Some hospitals in Qld have been on bypass for more than 300 days now, and others have been on and off for the last two years, which is untenable. The future of maternity care lies in Midwifery Group Practices, Birth Centres, private midwifery care and collaborative professional relationships where women and families are at the centre of shared decision making. The sooner midwifery led continuity of care can be accessed by all women, the better.”
1. Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing, Mothers and Babies Report, December 2022
2. Robyn Matthews, Della Forster et al FUCHSIA Future proofing the midwifery workforce in Victoria: A state-wide cross-sectional study exploring health, wellbeing and sustainability, December 2022.