Objective: To explore whether women allocated to caseload care characterise their midwife differently to those allocated to standard care.
Design: Multi-site unblinded, randomised, controlled, parallel-group trial.
Setting: The study was conducted in two metropolitan teaching hospitals across two Australian cities.
Population: Women of all obstetric risk were eligible to participate. Inclusion criteria were: 18 years or older, less than 24 week's gestation with a singleton pregnancy. Women already booked with a care provider or planning to have an elective caesarean section were excluded.
Interventions: Participants were randomised to caseload midwifery or standard care. The caseload model provided antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care from a primary midwife or ‘back-up’ midwife; as well as consultation with obstetric or medical physicians as indicated by national guidelines. The standard model included care from a general practitioner and/or midwives and obstetric doctors.
Measurements and findings: Participants’ responses to open-ended questions were collected through a 6-week postnatal survey and analysed thematically. A total of 1748 women were randomised between December 2008 – May 2011; 871 to caseload midwifery and 877 to standard care. The response rate to the 6-week survey including free text items was 52% (n=901). Respondents from both groups characterised midwives as Informative, Competent and Kind. Participants in the caseload group perceived midwives with additional qualities conceptualised as Empowering and ‘Endorphic’. These concepts highlight some of the active ingredients that moderated or mediated the effects of the midwifery care within the M@NGO trial.
Key conclusion: Caseload midwifery attracts, motivates and enables midwives to go Above and Beyond such that women feel empowered, nurtured and safe during pregnancy, labour and birth.
Implications for practice: The concept of an Endorphic midwife makes a useful contribution to midwifery theory as it enhances our understanding of how the complex intervention of caseload midwifery influences normal birth rates and experiences. Defining personal midwife attributes which are important for caseload models has potential implications for graduate attributes in degree programs leading to registration as a midwife and selection criteria for caseload midwife positions.