Access to the safe maternity care of a woman’s choice is a basic right that should be universally available to all women in Australia.
Across Australia, in rural and regional areas, a woman’s access to maternity services, choice of care and carer and the provision of culturally safe care is not equitable. Rural maternity service closures are rife and alongside services on bypass there is currently a decimation of services which is negatively impacting women’s access to the care of their choice as well as the sustainability of the rural health workforce. This issue has dominated the media for months demonstrating the public’s concerns around this crisis.
Government has solutions available. Through successive reviews of maternity services, women consistently identify midwifery continuity of care as a preferred model of care. Evidence also demonstrates that midwifery continuity of care with a known midwife from conception to 6 weeks post birth, significantly improves outcomes for both mother and baby. Midwifery continuity of care is paramount to the continuation of rural maternity services and is the key to resolving this issue.
All women require a midwife for care during labour and birth, however only some will require the additional care of a doctor. Midwives are able to provide care within the birthing context, under their own authority to women of low risk and should be supported to do so.
25% of women give birth in non-metropolitan settings and a large portion of these women are NOT receiving adequate maternity care.
Evidence affirms that midwives working to their full scope of practice, including sexual and reproductive health and maternal, child & family health are well positioned and willing to provide comprehensive primary maternity care to women in rural, regional and remote areas. Midwifery models of care, including those using endorsed midwives, are safe and critical to the resolution of the rural maternity crisis.
ACM’s Rural Maternity Services Position Statement