ABSTRACT:Background: In 1996 a new model of maternity care characterized by continuity of midwifery care from early pregnancy through the postpartum period was implemented for women attending Monash Medical Centre, a tertiary level obstetric service, in Melbourne, Australia. This study's purpose was to assess the impact of this model on women's views and experiences of care during the antenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum periods compared with views of women receiving standard maternity care.
Methods: One thousand low- and high-risk women who booked at the antenatal clinic and met the eligibility criteria were randomly allocated to continuity of midwifery care from a group of seven midwives in collaboration with medical staff, or to standard care from a variety of midwives and medical staff. Women's views of care were measured by means of a postal questionnaire at four months after the birth.
Results: Team midwifery care was associated with increased satisfaction with antenatal, intrapartum, and some aspects of postpartum care. The differences were most obvious for antenatal care.
Conclusions: Continuity of midwifery care is realistically achievable in a tertiary obstetric referral service and is associated with increased satisfaction. (BIRTH 30:1 March 2003)