First nations mum and bub

Better Birth Outcomes with Private Midwifery Programs

A recent study from the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at Charles Darwin University has revealed that private midwifery programs in Australia provide better outcomes for mothers and their babies compared to the national average. This could be exciting news for prospective parents considering their maternity care options.

What are Private Midwifery Programs? In private midwifery programs, each woman is paired with a primary midwife who is available from the initial booking until six weeks after birth. This continuity of care means that the same trusted professional is with you throughout your pregnancy, birth, and early postnatal period.

Benefits of Private Midwifery Care: The study found that women in these programs experience:

  • Fewer labour inductions and cesarean sections.
  • Reduced need for episiotomies.
  • Increased rates of spontaneous vaginal births.

In addition to these benefits, there’s a strong emphasis on multidisciplinary care. Many women receive consultations or referrals to other specialists, ensuring comprehensive care.

Study Details: Researchers analysed data from over 2700 women over nine years who received care from My Midwives, the largest private midwifery provider in Australia. The data indicates that the My Midwives program has reduced complications for women compared to the national average.

  • 12.4% of women gave birth at home.
  • 14.5% gave birth at a birth centre.

Financial and Hospital Impact: The study also highlighted financial benefits for public hospitals. These hospitals require fewer intrapartum midwifery staff and save between $808 and $1,643 per birth. These savings remain even when bed fees are waived.

Expert Insights: Associate Professor Yu Gao from the research centre emphasized that while there are many maternity care options in Australia, private midwifery has shown significant positive outcomes. However, the cost can be a barrier for many women.

Professor Sue Kildea, also from the research centre, noted that removing financial barriers could increase access to these beneficial services. She called for policies to waive bed fees and private adjustment fees for women without private health insurance. “Only 2.1 percent of women in Australia are accessing private midwifery care,” Professor Kildea said.

Recommendations for the Future: Karen Hollindale, Managing Director of My Midwives, stressed the need to implement Medicare for Midwives review recommendations immediately. This would allow more midwives to be endorsed and expand these programs, especially in rural and remote areas where maternity care is urgently needed.

There is a shortage of midwives right across Australia at the moment, including in remote and very remote areas, the evidence shows rolling out private midwifery programs is a positive financial solution to build this workforce and provide care that is much needed across the country.

If you’re an expecting parent, this study suggests that private midwifery could offer a more personalized birth experience. The continuity of care, reduced intervention rates, and financial benefits for hospitals make a strong case for considering this option. The study was published in the Women and Birth Journal and underscores the need to make these services more accessible for all Australian women.