New Era of Reform to Provide Australian Women with Choice.
As they celebrate International Day of the Midwife this Wednesday 5 May, Australian women and midwives are poised on the brink of a new era in maternity reform. Promised changes, due to take effect in November 2010, should, for the first time, enable women to choose their own midwife for pregnancy, birth in hospital and the postnatal period, and to access Medicare rebates for care from their midwife of choice.
Maternity Coalition’s National President and mother of four, Lisa Metcalfe, sees improved access to continuity, which allows a woman to develop a relationship of mutual trust, respect and understanding with her midwife, as a substantial step forward.
“The World Health Organisation acknowledges continuity of midwifery care as the optimal care for pregnancy and birth, yet currently less than 1% of Australian women have the option to choose it,” said Ms Metcalfe. “The reforms to our maternity system have the potential to make the choice of midwifery care more widely available, and of realising Maternity Coalition’s vision of ‘Every Woman, Every Choice’ but there is still work to be done.”
Consultations continue around the details of how the reforms will work, particularly in relation to defining collaborative arrangements with doctors and obstetricians, and uncertainty remains about birthing at home with a midwife in private practice from July 2010.
“Midwives are experts in pregnancy and birth and are able to work with a variety of medical specialists to provide optimal care for women. They need to be able to provide continuity of care in a range of institutions, models and settings which will acknowledge and embrace their full scope of practice.” said Ms Metcalfe.
Maternity Coalition joins the Australian College of Midwives in congratulating Darwin midwife Marg Phelan on commencing her epic cycle ride around Australia to promote midwifery, normal birth and breastfeeding. Marg’s journey will take her through some of Australia’s most remote communities, where women’s birthing choices are highly restricted.
Celebrations are being held at venues throughout Australia including Brisbane, Melbourne, Darwin, Wollongong, Toowoomba, Wyong, Geelong and Stanthorpe to advocate the right of every Australian woman to have access to every choice in pregnancy care and childbirth, and to celebrate the enormous contribution midwives make to maternity care.
See www.maternitycoalition.org.au for a full list of events.