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Championing continuity of care in midwifery

  • 22 Apr 2024


Caroline Homer speaking into a mic at a podium
Professor Caroline Homer AO at the PSANZ congress.

Women need greater control of their birthing experience, more choice about their care and better access to midwives, according to Burnet Institute Deputy Director of Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Professor Caroline Homer AO.

In a recent address at the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) congress in Christchurch, New Zealand, she said all women and newborns had a right to a positive, dignified, and respectful childbirth experience.

“Women want continuity of care, especially from midwives, as part of a wider multidisciplinary team,” she said.

“Establishing continuity of care in the health system is possible but it needs leadership.”

Professor Homer said quality care that placed women at the centre, was vital. 

She said it was important to understand women's experiences, build trust, and embrace diversity.

“We know that every woman needs a midwife, and some also need a doctor – the systems need to ensure women can have both,“ she said.

“I'm working with colleagues in the Asia Pacific region on strengthening midwifery. We know there are huge challenges across 22 low- and middle-income countries in Asia and 14 in the Pacific.”

Professor Homer also recently spoke about the importance of midwives during the birthing experience to Flinders University Associate Lecturer at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Liz McNeill on her podcast Thru the Pinard.

She emphasised the scarcity of clinical professorial roles in midwifery.

“Embedding midwife clinicians as researchers is really important [as is] keeping them in the health system while they do research,” she said. 

“We’re about to start a Centre for Research Excellence, which is about supporting maternal and newborn health in the [Asia-Pacific] region with a strong focus on strengthening midwifery … particularly around education and faculty development.

“Working with a brilliant team here at Burnet, we’re [hoping] to ensure midwives work to their full scope of practice, provide quality care, and ensure that every woman in the world gets access to a midwife."

More from Professor Homer on the podcast.