Research Article|Articles in Press

Exploring women’s experiences in a midwifery continuity of care model following a traumatic birth

Published:February 10, 2023DOI:



      Over one third of women report their birth experience as psychologically traumatic. Psychological birth trauma has been associated with perinatal mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder.


      Midwifery continuity of care provides improved outcomes for mothers and babies as well as increased birth satisfaction. Some women who have experienced psychological birth trauma will seek out midwifery continuity of care in their next pregnancy. The aim of this study was to explore women’s experiences of midwifery continuity of care following a previous traumatic birth experience in Australia.


      A qualitative descriptive approach was undertaken. Eight multiparous women who self-identified as having psychological birth trauma were interviewed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis to discover how participants subsequently experienced care in a midwifery continuity of care model.


      Seven out of eight participants had care from a private midwife following birth trauma. Four themes were discovered. The nightmare lives on: despite a positive and/or healing experience in midwifery continuity of care, women still carry their traumatic birth experiences with them. Determination to find better care: Women sought midwifery continuity of care following a previous traumatic birth in their desire to prevent a similar experience. A broken maternity system: women described difficulties accessing these models including financial barriers and lack of availability. The power of continuity: All reported a positive experience birthing in a midwifery continuity of care model and some reported that this had a healing effect.


      Offering midwifery continuity of care models to women with a history of psychological birth trauma can be beneficial. More research is necessary to confirm the findings of this small study, and on ways women who have psychological birth trauma can be prioritised for midwifery continuity of care models in Australia.


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