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Models of maternity care: evidence for midwifery continuity of care

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In Australia, 300 000 women give birth each year, with almost all using maternity care services, either public or private.1 Maternity services are the third most common specialised service offered by hospitals,2,3 accounting for more than one million patient-days annually.4 The most common principal diagnosis for overnight hospital stays is single spontaneous birth, which accounts for 4.2% of acute separations in public hospitals and 2.4% in private hospitals.4

The provision of high quality maternal and newborn care is an important global aim, as articulated by the United Nations.5 In Australia, the 2011 National Maternity Services Plan stated that “All Australian women will have access to high-quality, evidence-based, culturally competent maternity care in a range of settings close to where they live” and recognised that continuity of care is very important for women.6 This plan followed the Maternity Services Review, which made recommendations regarding access to a range of models of maternity care, with a focus on women in rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and the need to build and support the maternity workforce to ensure the provision of safe,…