Debunking perceptions of safety

04 Jul, 2018
Debunking perceptions of safety

The opening of three refurbished rooms at Birthcare has opened up a conversation about giving women more birthing options in Auckland.

The benefits of primary birthing (birth in a primary setting such as home or a birthing unit) for healthy women and their babies has been increasingly documented over recent years. This is supported by local clinical data undertaken as part of the Primary Birthing Project. A collaboration between Birthcare, Auckland District Health Board and AUT’s Midwifery department, the Primary Birthing Project aims to encourage women who are healthy to consider the benefits of birthing in a primary unit.

The collaboration began in 2016 when lead maternity carer midwives in central Auckland were surveyed by AUT’s Midwifery department to identify support and barriers to offering Birthcare as a place of birth for low risk women. The research sought to understand why the majority of healthy women were supported to give birth in the local secondary/tertiary hospital when data shows that clinical outcomes are better for both mothers and babies. These outcomes are more spontaneous vaginal births and less caesarean and forceps birth, perineal injury, post-partum haemorrhage and admissions of babies to special care.

This research resulted in the Primary Birthing Project and will see AUT collaborate further over the next five years with Birthcare and Auckland District Health Board.

Debbie Macgregor from the Midwifery department in the School of Clinical Sciences says that the project has the following benefits to AUT:

  • An increase in student placements, and experience with an additional 400-600 women birthing in Birthcare over the next five years.
  • An increase in primary birthing experience for students, which can be difficult to obtain for everyone.
  • Collaboration with Birthcare Auckland and Auckland City Hospital - AUT will lead a change in midwifery practice in an area which has been prioritised by the Ministry of Health.
  • Research – the process of increasing primary birthing numbers, the data on outcomes, transfers and other key clinical indicators will be investigated under the AUT Centre for Midwifery and Women’s Health Research. This initiative has the potential to inform service provision in relation to primary birthing across New Zealand.

Debbie says that the project addresses the need to debunk the concern that birthing outside of hospital for appropriate expectant mothers is unsafe, and to build confidence in mothers and midwives to choose primary birthing.

"As midwives we are trained to guide healthy and well mothers and babies through the entire birthing process, and if any complications do develop, we are able to transfer the mother to hospital," she said.