The Australian College of Midwives believes that it is the right of every pregnant woman to have access to continuity of care by a known midwife for her pregnancy, labour and early postnatal period. Midwives are the most appropriate primary care providers for healthy mothers and newborn babies and are able to refer to specialist medical care if the need arises (Hicks, Spurgeon & Barwell, 2003). Midwives must work within the competency standards enforced by The ANMC Australian Nursing & Midwifery Council (2006) in order to obtain and practice as a registered midwife in Australia. Competency 4 states Midwives should “promote safe and effective practice” (ANMC, 2006), this is achievable by providing Midwifery continuity of care to women and there babies. Continuity of care has numerous health and satisfaction benefits to the woman, family and newborn (Lavender et al. 2002).
Midwifery led care emerged in the UK in the early 1990s in response to government policy changes to maternity services and provisions (Carolan & Hodnett, 2007). A variety of studies conducted in Australia and in the UK found that women giving birth at public hospitals were particularly unhappy. Issues raised included a lack of continuity of care, long waiting times in clinics, a lack of information and involvement in decision making and a lack of respect and sensitivity among caregivers (Carolan & Hodnett, 2007). In recent years the alternative care models have focussed on continuity of care, and particularly that provided by midwives, as a key concept in endeavours to increase women’s satisfaction with care (Waldenstrom & Turnbull, 1998).
According to the International College of Midwives (ICM), Continuity of midwifery care means a woman is able to develop a relationship with a midwife to work in partnership for the provision of her care during pregnancy, labour birth and the postnatal period. Whilst there are many ways in which midwifery care may be organised, midwives can function...
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