to evaluate midwife-led care (MLC) antenatal care compared with antenatal care provided in traditional obstetric-led hospital antenatal clinics (usual care).
a mixed methods approach involving a chart audit, postal survey, focus group and in-depth interviews.
data were collected at a large maternity hospital and satellite clinics in Dublin from women attending for antenatal care between June 2011 and May 2012.
300 women with low-risk pregnancy who attended midwife-led antenatal care or usual clinics during the study period were randomly selected to participate.
data were collected from 292 women׳s charts and from 186 survey participants (63% response rate). Nine women participated in in-depth interviews and a focus group.
MLC was as effective as usual care in relation to number of antenatal visits and ultrasound scans, referral to other clinicians, women׳s health in pregnancy, gestation at childbirth, and birth weight. Women attending MLC booked significantly earlier, fewer women attending MLC were admitted to hospital antenatally and more women breast fed their infant. Women attending MLC reported better choice and that shorter waiting times and having more time for discussion were important reasons for choosing MLC. Women attending MLC reported a better experience overall, and recorded better outcomes in relation to how they were treated, along with easier access to antenatal care and shorter waiting times to see a midwife. Although women attending MLC clinics reported higher satisfaction with the information that they received, they also identified that antenatal education could be improved in relation to labour, breast-feeding, depression and emotional well-being, and caring for the infant.
midwife-led antenatal care was as effective as usual care for women with low-risk pregnancy and better in relation to choice, breast feeding and women׳s experience of care.