Delivering a Healthy WA
Health Networks - Collaborative health care planning for the whole community

New maternity resources for health professionals and consumers

2015 was a busy year for the Womens and Newborns Health Network, with some exciting new resources for health professionals and consumers being released/revamped:

Midwifery Group Practice Toolkit

The Women and Newborns Continuity of Care Working Group has released the Midwifery Continuity of Carer Model Toolkit to support the implementation of Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) in Western Australia.

The toolkit provides background, templates and strategies to establish Midwifery Group Practice in public maternity services. Based on a NSW Toolkit, the working group has localised the toolkit for Western Australia.

MGP is also known as caseload midwifery or one-to-one midwifery. It is a model in which women receive care from the same midwife or small group of midwives who support a woman throughout pregnancy, including attending labour, and into the postnatal period. Currently, MGP is available at a number of maternity services across the State, including Armadale, Broome, Bunbury and King Edward Memorial Hospital as well as through the Community Midwifery program. MGP services are also being planned for Albany.

The Improving Maternity Services Framework – WA’s policy framework for the provision of maternity services – identified continuity of care as a critical enabler for the delivery of quality maternity services. Supporting continuity of care for women though the pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period has therefore been a key focus of the Network.

Research into continuity of care models has indicated that they are associated with higher rates of normal birth and lower rates of intervention, and provide enhanced satisfaction for both women and midwives. Results from MGP in WA support the findings, with women birthing in a MGP service demonstrating higher rates of spontaneous vaginal birth, lower rates of caesarean section and epidural use, and a reduced length of maternal stay compared to other women birthing in Western Australia.

Other Continuity of Care Working Group Projects

In 2014, the Continuity of Care Working Group oversaw the development of a statewide Midwifery Annualised Salary Agreement. This agreement has been pivotal in employing midwives in Midwifery Group Practices in public maternity services in Western Australia.

In 2016, the Continuity of Care Working Group will continue to progress the implementation of maternal continuity of care midwifery-led models in Western Australia. This will ensure as many women as possible can receive care from the same midwife or small group of midwives in collaboration with medical staff throughout their pregnancy, during labour and into the postnatal period.

Refugee and Migrant Women Toolkit of Resources

Refugee and migrant women have been identified as having unique needs when it comes to accessing maternity care services. Without cultural awareness and competency, services are in danger of inadequately meeting the needs of these women and their families.

The Network has completed a series of projects aimed at enabling maternity services to provide more appropriate care for refugee and migrant women. This included a public forum in 2015 to look at improving access to and delivery of services for disadvantaged women. This forum noted the importance of partnerships and communication in providing adequate services to disadvantaged women as well as some of the challenges of approaching culture change and how to address racism experienced by Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) women. Attendees identified themes impacting service delivery then discussed potential solutions. Further and more detailed information can be found in the forum report.

In 2015 this culminated in the release of a Toolkit of resources for the provision of care to Refugee and Migrant Women accessing maternity services.

Having a Baby Website

The Having a Baby website has now completed its transition to its new home at HealthyWA. As part of this transition, the Network has revamped the site to make it easy to navigate and ensure it provides quality information for women and their families. It provides critical pieces of information about having a baby and the kind of support available in Western Australia.

This site also provides valuable information to parents and prospective parents in planning and having a baby including extensive information on birthing options and caring for your baby in the postnatal period and beyond.