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“She was there all the time”. A qualitative study exploring how women at higher risk for preterm birth experience midwifery continuity of care

Published:January 20, 2023DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2023.01.003

      Abstract

      Problem

      There is a paucity of research on experiences and views of women at higher risk of preterm birth of midwifery continuity of care.

      Background

      Midwifery continuity of care (MCoC) has been associated with improved maternal outcomes and with lower levels of preterm births and stillbirths. The majority of MCoC studies have focused on women without risk factors and little has been published on women with obstetric complexities. The aim of this study is to explore the views and experiences of women identified as a higher risk of preterm birth who have had continuity of care from midwives.

      Design

      Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with 16 women identified as at increased risk of preterm birth and experienced continuity of midwifery care across pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Care had been provided by the pilot intervention group for the pilot study of midwifery practice in preterm birth including women’s experiences (POPPIE) trial.

      Findings

      Women valued continuity of midwifery care across the care pathway and described the reassurance provided by having 24 h a day, seven days a week access to known midwives. Consistency of care, advocacy and accessibility to the team were described as the main factors contributing to their feelings of safety and control.

      Key conclusions

      Recognising that known midwives were ‘there all the time’ made women feel listened to and actively involved in clinical decision making, which contributed to women feeling less stressed and anxious during their pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. When developing MCoC models for women with obstetric complexities: access, advocacy and time should be embedded to ensure women can build trusting relationships and reduce anxiety levels.

      Keywords

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