Birthplace in Australia is a cohort study being undertaken by a collaboration of researchers from around the country. The primary aim of the study is to compare neonatal mortality and morbidity associated with births that, at the onset of labour, are planned to be at
- home, in birth centres or stand-alone midwifery units with
- those planned to be in standard labour wards, for women at 'low risk' of complications.
Commencing in 2012, this is a national study funded through an NHMRC Project Grant (2012-2015).
Whilst more than 7,500 babies are born outside standard labour wards in Australia each year there is limited evidence of the safety of these alternative settings and significant concerns have been raised about the wellbeing of babies in particular. The National Maternity Services Plan, released in January 2011 by the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council acknowledged that many Australian women experience restricted birthing choices and supports expanding the range of models of care. High quality data on the risks and benefits associated with giving birth in the various settings must be available to women, policy makers and service providers. This study is the first of its kind in Australia and will provide that evidence.
The study will also look in detail at outcomes such as interventions during labour and maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. For the women who plan to give birth at home, in birth centres or stand-alone midwifery units, additional data will be obtained regarding transfer to a higher-level service during or after labour.
A population based cohort examining perinatal outcomes using routinely collected data in NSW has been published.
Professor Caroline Homer, University of Technology, Sydney
Professor David Ellwood, Australian National University, Canberra
Professor Jeremy Oats, Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne
Professor Maralyn Foureur, University of Technology, Sydney
Professor David Sibbritt, University of Technology, Sydney
Associate Professor Helen McLachlan, La Trobe University, The Women's Hospital Melbourne
Professor Della Forster, La Trobe University, Melbourne
Professor Hannah Dahlen, University of Western Sydney
Professor Peter Brocklehurst, University of Oxford, England
Dr Paul Craven, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle
Associate Professor Sue Kruske, Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies, University of Queensland
Professor Deborah Davis, University of Canberra
Dr Mary Stewart, Kings College, London
Ms Jo Hunter, Homebirth Midwife, Homebirth Australia
Ms Melissa Fox, Consumer Representative
Dr Christine Catling, University of Technology, Sydney