Australian College of Midwives MEDIA RELEASE
“Mothers and Midwives Budget winners”
“Today is an historic day for childbearing women and their families in Australia,” said Associate Professor Hannah Dahlen, National Media Spokespersons for the Australian College of Midwives.
“Not only has the Rudd Government made the welcome commitment to parental leave to better support families with newborn babies, but they have also provided for:
mothers to receive Medicare rebates for midwifery care,
access to PBS for midwives,
national collaborative maternity care guidelines,
increased access at state level to birth centres,
indemnity for midwives
measures to enhance the access of rural and remote women to maternity care as close as possible to their home community.
A national telephone support service for pregnant women and mothers of newborns
“These reforms will together make it much easier for women living anywhere in Australia – from the middle of our largest cities to remote communities - to access continuity of care by a known midwife” Assoc Prof Dahlen said. “They will also be vital in helping to close the gap on disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies in partnership with Indigenous people themselves.”
Continuity of midwifery care involves a pregnant woman being cared for by a known midwife throughout her pregnancy, labour and birth. It also involves follow up care in the home for up to 6 weeks after the birth of the baby to provide professional support with the all important transition to parenting.
“This is not about substituting doctors with midwives” Assoc. Prof Dahlen said. “Obstetricians will, of course, continue to have a vital role in maternity care. Midwives providing continuity of care collaborate with obstetricians and allied health professionals throughout the episode of care, in response to the individual needs of each woman and her baby.”
Research evidence shows a range of benefits when women are cared for by known midwives from early in pregnancy till well after the birth. These include fewer admissions to hospital antenatally, less need for epidurals or for any pain relief, fewer episiotomies, more normal births, reduced need for their baby to be admitted to a special care nursery, more success with breastfeeding, and less vulnerability to postnatal depression or anxiety.
“Health Minister Nicola Roxon is to be commended for listening to Australian women during the recent national review of maternity services and for acting on the evidence that their needs could be better met with greater access to continuity of care by midwives, said Assoc Prof Dahlen
“These reforms pave the way for tens of thousands of women and their families to benefit from continuity of midwifery care while maintaining Australia’s solid record of safety for mothers and babies,” said Assoc. Professor Dahlen. “The confidence the government has expressed in midwives through these major reforms will be embraced by the profession around Australia.”
“Today the government has honoured women and motherhood in this country and recognised that ‘the hand that rocks the cradle’ does indeed ‘rule the world,’ and that we as a society need to support women and invest in the future– our children,” said Associate Professor Dahlen.
For further information contact the Australian College of Midwives www.midwives.org.au