Choosing a Midwife

Research shows that having care from the same midwife over the whole childbirth period can offer health benefits for mother and baby.

Until recently, Australian women have missed out on an extremely valuable option for maternity care. Research demonstrates that choosing the option to have your own midwife for care during pregnancy, labour and birth and for six weeks post-birth can provide significant health benefits for both mother and baby. This option has been widely available as close as New Zealand but has been out of reach for most Aussie mums.

In the last six months, major hospitals in South East Qld have made this option a reality with Eligible Private Practice Midwives (EPPMs or ‘private midwives’) now able to admit women to hospital for labour and birth with Medicare (and private health) rebates, making this option both accessible and affordable. In Brisbane, the My Midwives team is one such group of EPPMs.

What Are the Benefits?

My Midwives Managing Director, Liz Wilkes, indicates Australian research involving many thousands of women shows that being cared for by the same midwife over the whole childbirth period offers amazing health benefits for mother and baby.

Benefits can include being more likely to have a normal birth and significantly improved mental health outcomes.

Studies also found babies were less likely to be admitted to special-care nursery or neonatal intensive care with this option, and that breastfeeding was more likely to be established and continue.

What Has Changed?

Despite having great research available, the option of being able to access midwifery care has been mostly available in limited numbers through public hospital clinics and has not been available privately. In 2010, Medicare began to offer rebates for midwifery care, opening up the option to have pregnancy and postnatal care from your own midwife, and now six major hospitals in South East Qld have made it possible for private midwives to admit their clients (with rebates available for this care).

Real life stories in Brisbane Australian model and TV star Erin McNaught (now Erin Greave) recently relocated from her UK home to Brisbane to receive pregnancy care and give birth to baby Evander at the RBWH under the care of an EPPM. Erin rates the experience highly,”Having one amazing midwife to guide me through my pregnancy and birth meant I ended up having the most empowering birthing experience. It was incredible having my midwife with me all the way to offer advice and support at a moment’s notice, yet allowed the space for us to enjoy the journey intimately as a couple, all the while guiding us to make educated decisions along the way.”

“Having a baby can be a little daunting, but my midwife gave me the confidence to trust that my body would know what to do.”

How to Find Out More

“Women can look on popular web services, read parenting magazines, and ask their local hospitals for contact details for private midwives. The Pregnancy, Babies and Children Expo held in Brisbane on 19 to 21 June has a Meet the Midwife Lounge where a discussion is possible with a range of midwifery services, including the My Midwives team. When researching midwifery care, it is important to compare the options for place of birth, as well as the back-up services and obstetricians that work with the midwife, and the cost and/or payment options.

Having access to a range of complimentary therapists can also assist with minor pregnancy related problems.

The My Midwives team works alongside Brisbane Livewell Clinic to offer women a range of health services to meet their individual needs. Interviewing more than one midwife is often the best way to find the person who is right to provide your care through this exciting, intensely personal and unique experience.

Liz Wilkes is the Managing Director of My Midwives and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University.

Words By Liz Wilkes / Image By Lemonade Lane

Guest Contributor