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Midwifery continuity of care for women with complex pregnancies in Australia: An integrative review

      Abstract

      Background

      All women require access to quality maternity care. Continuity of midwifery care can enhance women’s experiences of childbearing and is associated with positive outcomes for women and infants. Much research on these models has been conducted with women with uncomplicated pregnancies; less is known about outcomes for women with complexities.

      Aim

      To explore the outcomes and experiences for women with complex pregnancies receiving midwifery continuity of care in Australia.

      Methods

      This integrative review used Whittemore and Knafl’s approach. Authors searched five electronic databases (PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, and MAG Online) and assessed the quality of relevant studies using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) appraisal tools.

      Findings

      Fourteen studies including women with different levels of obstetric risk were identified. However, only three reported outcomes separately for women categorised as either moderate or high risk. Perinatal outcomes reported included mode of birth, intervention rates, blood loss, perineal trauma, preterm birth, admission to special care and breastfeeding rates. Findings were synthesised into three themes: ‘Contributing to safe processes and outcomes’, ‘Building relational trust’, and ‘Collaborating and communicating’. This review demonstrated that women with complexities in midwifery continuity of care models had positive experiences and outcomes, consistent with findings about low risk women.

      Discussion

      The nascency of the research on midwifery continuity of care for women with complex pregnancies in Australia is limited, reflecting the relative dearth of these models in practice.

      Conclusion

      Despite favourable findings, further research on outcomes for women of all risk is needed to support the expansion of midwifery continuity of care.

      Keywords

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