According to a new study, one to one midwife care by the same midwife throughout pregnancy and during birth is as safe as shared maternity care and is significantly cheaper.
Researchers have found that it costs, on average, £300 less if a woman is offered maternity care by the same midwife for the duration of her pregnancy and beyond. Plus, it also results in fewer interventions such as Caesareans.
The study was outlined in the medical journal The Lancet, and will increase the pressure on the government to meet a pledge to every pregnant woman with a named NHS midwife to oversee their pregnancy and birth care.
There are concerns over a shortfall in the provision of midwives. The Royal College of Midwives warned last month that the lack of staff may not be dealt with until 2026.
The study looked at over 1600 women and said their results disproved concerns that one to one midwife care, also known as the ‘case-load model’, was too expensive and not safe for complex pregnancies.
Compared to the standard midwifery model, by which maternity care is shared between GPs and a hospital-based midwife team, women who received one to one care were less likely to have an elective Caesarean, more likely to have spontaneous labour and required a lower amount of pain-controlling drugs.
Also, they needed a shorter stay in hospital and had improved rates of breastfeeding.
The study was carried out in Australia where the standard shared-care model seen in the UK also predominates.