There are many ways women can be cared for during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. One of the most beneficial ‘models of care’ is midwifery-led continuity of care.
Midwifery-led care is defined as care provided to a woman by a single midwife or small group of midwives through pregnancy, birth and the early parenting period. These models of care have been shown to reduce medical interventions for women and reduce the rates of preterm babies when compared with standard care. Standard care is care provided by a variety of caregivers such as general practitioners, midwives and obstetricians throughout the childbearing experience.
There is overwhelming evidence that midwifery-led continuity of care is safe, cost-effective and that women want this model of care. Women report greater levels of satisfaction when they experience midwifery-led continuity of care and midwives report higher levels of job satisfaction when compared to providing standard care. Furthermore, these benefits can be achieved at a reduced cost to the health service.
In Australia only small numbers of women have access to midwifery-led continuity of care. Barriers to the implementation and upscaling of the models include redesigning maternity services and finding midwives to work in the models.
New graduate midwives working in midwifery-led continuity of care models
Dr Allison Cummins’s explored the experiences of new graduate midwives who transition directly into midwifery-led continuity of care models. This research also discovered the enablers and facilitators to employing well prepared and motivated new graduate midwives to work in the models. The research has had real-world impact with several health services now beginning to employ new graduate midwives into the models to ensure sustainability and expansion.
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Quality of Care Framework
Further research has been undertaken by Dr Allison Cummins to understand the qualities of midwifery-led continuity of care models that leads to the improved outcomes for women and babies. This research used the Quality Maternal Newborn Care Framework to explore one model in a rural and remote setting and one in a large metropolitan hospital. The Australian Midwifery-led Continuity of Care (MiLCCA) study grew out of a collaboration between the Maternal Infant Research Unit at the University of Dundee Scotland, a University of Technology Sydney Key Technology Partner. Dr Allison Cummins travelled to Scotland to pilot test using the Quality Maternal Newborn Care Framework to evaluate midwifery-led models of care with success.
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If you are interested in research in relation to midwifery-led continuity of care models please contact Dr Allison Cummins