According to the Medical Independent, a major study has found that midwifery-led care is as safe as consultant-led care but uses less intervention in pregnancy and childbirth.
The study, commissioned by the HSE and conducted by the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, involved 1,653 women having babies in the HSE Dublin North-East region from 2004 to 2007, and compared the usual consultant-led maternity care with a new model of care provided by midwives in two integrated Midwifery-led Units (MLUs) in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda and Cavan General Hospital.
The number of babies needing resuscitation at birth, or admission to the special care baby unit, was the same in both groups. Almost 6 in 10 women in the CLUs (57 per cent) had their labours speeded up by either having their ‘waters’ broken or having oxytocin, given intravenously by ‘drip’, compared with only 4 in 10 women in the MLUs (40 per cent).
In labour, fewer women in the MLU group chose to have epidurals (18 per cent) than did those in the CLU (24 per cent).
A signficant 85 per cent of women attending the MLUs said they would recommend the care they had received to a friend, compared with 70 per cent of those having usual care. Although facilities in the MLUs were quite luxurious, the cost of care for each woman was €332.80 less than in the usual hospital system. In addition, this model of care enabled consultant obstetricians to devote more time to caring for women with pregnancy complications, who really need their input.
Cecily Begley, Professor of Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin and principal investigator of the project said the results demonstrated the high quality of maternity care in this country. “Safety is our primary concern”, she said, “and this study has shown conclusively that low-risk women receive safe care from both midwives and obstetricians. Midwifery-led care uses fewer interventions, however, and most women prefer that”.
The study has been published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth