An updated review, published today in The Cochrane Library, suggests that maternity care that involves a midwife as the main care provider leads to less interventions for most women.
Researchers found that women who received continued care throughout pregnancy and birth from a small group of midwives were less likely to give birth pre-term and required fewer interventions during labour and birth than when their care was shared between different professional groups, including midwives, obstetricians and GPs.
The review concludes that all women should be offered midwife-led continuity of care unless they have serious medical or obstetric complications.
Commenting on the review, Dr Tony Falconer, President of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:
“Care and safety of mothers and newborn babies should be at the very heart of maternity services and we support the recommendations of this review and the notion of continuity of care given by midwives. Midwives act as the main providers of care for the majority of women throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and more women with low-risk pregnancies should be given the option of midwifery-led care.
“However, it is also important that women with high-risk pregnancies have immediate access to specialist services should complications or emergencies arise during labour. It is recognised that it is not always possible to identify those women who will develop complications either in pregnancy or in labour and multi-disciplinary teams are vital to ensure the best possible care is provided for both mother and baby.
“Maternity services must recognise and support choice and normality while offering those at risk, or those who develop complications, ready access to high-quality specialist services.”
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To read the review 'Midwife-led continuity models versus other models of care for childbearing women', please click here.