Community Midwifery WA proposes for consideration a Maternity Care Database to enable expectant parents to make informed choices on where and with whom to give birth.
Outcome data on hospitals / maternity services across the nation is urgently required on rates of caesarean, interventions, breastfeeding, pain-relief (and what type), perinatal depression, and so on. Similar scorecards for individual maternity care professionals would also be invaluable to assist couples to choose an obstetrician, GP or midwife who is best suited to support their aspirations for birth.
Choosing a maternity care provider is the first decision parents make about the care of a child and yet data on where to access a ‘best practice’ service (compared to others) is not available. Expectant couples are effectively making ‘blind’ decisions and the fall-out from this is significant.
Achieving a natural birth in Australia has become a rare event. Women are increasingly having difficulties during pregnancy and birth not only physically but in terms of their mental health and well-being. Birth related post-traumatic shock, and depression – both before and after childbirth – is rising at an alarming rate. Although not on our turf, it is concerning to note that in Denmark 89% of women currently present with psychological problems during pregnancy or in the early postnatal period. A first step for Australia to take to avoid following this trend is for there to be greater transparency around key maternal and infant health outcomes by maternity care service. With such data expectant couples can begin to make more informed choices about their care and have real control over – and input into – this key life experience.
Coping with the maternity / parenting journey begins with being able to make responsible decisions during pregnancy and childbirth. Partnering with a maternity care provider who will respect a couple’s decisions and work with them to prepare well for a great birth, is the best possible way of achieving good outcomes and minimising the nation’s maternity health spend.