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Access to same midwife during pregnancy cuts premature birth risk

Wednesday 8th November 2017
A new report highlights how continuity of care throughout pregnancy can benefit both mothers and babies. Image: oceandigital via iStock
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    Expectant mothers who are cared for by the same nurse or midwife throughout their entire pregnancy are less likely to suffer a miscarriage or give birth prematurely, according to new research.

    A study carried out by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has found that continuity of a carer is instrumental to positive outcomes for both mothers and babies. The findings of the investigation have been published in a paper entitled 'The contribution of continuity of midwifery care to high-quality maternity care'.

    It shows that women who are looked after by the same healthcare professional throughout their pregnancy are 16 per cent less likely to have a miscarriage and are almost one-quarter (24 per cent) less likely to give birth dangerously prematurely.

    However, a survey conducted in 2015 found that more than one-third (36 per cent) of women do not see the same midwife at each appointment they have during their pregnancy, while 25 per cent of new mothers revealed they had been left on their own in the middle of labour or shortly after giving birth due to their midwife being overstretched.

    The RCM therefore wants to see more effort made to ensure women have continuity of care throughout their whole pregnancy and that they can be supported by a midwife that they are familiar with both during and immediately after giving birth.

    For this to be possible, more funding for more midwives is needed, so the RCM is calling on the government for extra support.

    Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the RCM, commented: "There is no doubt that continuity of care and carer improves care for women. We also know that it is a way of delivering services that women value. This is why it is at the heart of government policies for maternity services.

    "The challenge is to organise our services to deliver it in a way that meets the needs of women and the staff who will work in this way. But it can be done as those services that have introduced it have shown."

    Written by James Puckle

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