Background:In 1996 a new model of maternity care characterized by continuity of midwifery care from early pregnancy through to the postpartum period was implemented for women attending Monash Medical Centre, a tertiary level obstetric service, in Melbourne, Australia. The objective of this study was to compare the new model of care with standard maternity care.Methods:In a randomized controlled trial, 1000 women who booked at the antenatal clinic and met the eligibility criteria were randomly allocated to receive continuity of midwifery care (team care) from a group of seven midwives in collaboration with obstetric staff, or care from a variety of midwives and obstetric staff (standard care). The primary outcome measures were procedures in labor, maternal outcomes, neonatal outcomes, and length of hospital stay.Results:Women assigned to the team care group experienced less augmentation of labor, less electronic fetal monitoring, less use of narcotic and epidural analgesia, and fewer episiotomies but more unsutured tears. Team care women stayed in hospital 7 hours less than women in standard care. More babies of standard care mothers were admitted to the special care nurseries for more than 5 days because of preterm birth, and more babies of team care mothers were admitted to the nurseries for more than 5 days with intrauterine growth retardation. No differences occurred in perinatal mortality between the two groups.Conclusions:Continuity of midwifery care was associated with a reduction in medical procedures in labor and a shorter length of stay without compromising maternal and perinatal safety. Continuity of midwifery care is realistically achievable in a tertiary obstetric referral service.