7 February 2012

Queensland mums who received continuity of carer during their pregnancy, labour and birth have the highest rates of satisfaction according to work by UQ’s Queensland Centre for Mothers & Babies (QCMB).

Professor Sue Kruske, Director of the QCMB, said results from the Having a Baby in Queensland Survey, a survey run by the Centre asking women about their maternity care experiences, showed the benefit of this model of maternity care.

She said continuity of carer referred to a model of maternity care where women saw the same midwives and/or doctors throughout their pregnancy and usually to six weeks after the birth of their baby.

“This model is quite common in facilities such as birth centres,” Professor Kruske said.

“The results from the survey showed women saying they were 100 per cent satisfied with their care in facilities such as the Mackay, Townsville birth centres.

“Other birth centres such as the Royal Brisbane & Women’s and the Gold Coast birth centres had overall satisfaction rates of 92 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.

“To get such high satisfaction ratings is quite amazing, considering maternity care is not just about the birth, but includes the pregnancy and follow up services post-birth.”

New mum Melissa Warner, whose daughter Honor was born at the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Birth Centre in early January, said she really appreciated being able to develop a meaningful relationship with her small team of three midwives through her pregnancy, during the labour and the first few weeks after giving birth.

“I just felt very comfortable and safe knowing that my labour and birth would be well supported, avoiding unnecessary medical intervention,” Melissa said.

“For me, continuity of care is crucially about the person who supports the labour being there before and after as well and that opportunity to develop a relationship along the way.

“Care provided naturally becomes more patient focused and individualised because both the health care professional and patient get to know each other better over time.”

Professor Kruske said while continuity of midwifery care was accepted practice in birth centres, it was also becoming increasingly available in hospitals.

“Queensland Health has a target of increasing continuity of care models in public hospitals to 10 per cent in the larger facilities and 100 per cent in facilities that have less than 200 births per year by 2013,” she said.

“The evidence for outcomes and satisfaction of care is there and we would really like to see this model of care adopted across all birth facilities, so Queensland mums can get the quality of care they deserve.”

Professor Kruske said the QCMB was about to undertake the 2012 instalment of the Having a Baby in Queensland Survey in partnership with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and women who gave birth in the past four months would soon be invited to take part.

“The Survey is crucial to understanding women’s needs and preferences for improved maternity care in Queensland and we encourage people to take part,” she said.

The QCMB is an independent research centre based at The University of Queensland and funded by the Queensland Government.

The role of the Centre is to work towards consumer-focused maternity care that is integrated, evidence-based and provides optimal choices for women in Queensland.

Media: Professor Sue Kruske, 0418 882 337 or 3346 3081, or Andrew Dunne, QCMB Communications Manager, 0433 364 181. Photo & interview opportunities are available with Melissa Warner and her daughter.