Clinical outcomes and financial estimates for women attending the largest private midwifery service in Australia compared to national data: A retrospective cohort study

Yu Gao, Liz Wilkes, Annabel Tafe, Andrea Quanchi, Lauren Ruthenberg, Michelle Warriner, Sue Kildea

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Abstract

Background and Problem: Multiple barriers to national scale-out of private midwifery practice in Australia exist. Aim: To describe and compare maternal infant health outcomes of the largest private midwifery service in Australia with the national core maternity indicators and estimate the financial impact on collaborating public hospitals. Methods: A retrospective cohort of 2747 maternal health records from 2014 to 2022 were compared to national indicators. Financial calculations estimated the impact on hospitals. Findings: Compared to national data, women cared by private midwives were significantly: more likely to be 25–34 years and primiparous; less likely to be Indigenous, have diabetes, hypertension or multiple births. At birth, 5% required discussion with specialists, 25% required consultation and 39% were referred; 86% women had their primary midwife at birth; 12.5% birthed at home and 14.5% at a birth centre. Compared to national data, primiparous women had fewer inductions (22.9% vs 45.8%), caesarean sections (22.6% vs 32.1%), instrumental vaginal births (17.0% vs 25.7%), episiotomies (9.5% vs 23.9%) and more birthed vaginally after caesarean section (75.9% vs 11.9%). Significantly less babies were born with a birthweight <2750 g (0.5% vs 1.2%) and 83.7% babies were exclusively breastfed at six weeks. Collaborating hospitals would receive less DRG funding compared to public patients, require less intrapartum midwifery staff and receive a net benefit, even when bed fees were waived. Conclusion: Women attending My Midwives had significantly lower intervention rates when compared to national indicators although maternal characteristics could be contributing. Multidisciplinary care was evident. Financial modelling shows positive impacts for hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101591
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Birth
Volume37
Issue number3
Early online date2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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