Tuesday, 9 April 2013

National Core Maternity Indicators

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the University of New South Wales have recently (2013) published the National Core Maternity Indicators.

“This is the first report of 10 national core maternity indicators for monitoring the quality of maternity care in Australia. National rates have decreased for smoking in pregnancy, episiotomy among women having their first baby and giving birth vaginally, and the proportion of babies born weighing less than 2,750 grams at or after 40 weeks. However, for some indicators, including induction of labour, caesarean section and instrumental vaginal birth, rates have increased and point to areas for possible further attention.”

This report is good in many ways, mainly because it quantifies key areas we as health care professionals should be concerned with. Perhaps the most concerning statistic is the rate of normal (non-instrumental) vaginal birth for selected women giving birth for the first time – 49.6%. This means that as a first-time Mum, you are more likely to have a Caesarean Section, Forceps or Vacuum-assisted birth then you are to push your baby out unassisted! Scary stuff!

Place of birth is also important

“Selected women giving birth for the first time in public hospitals were more likely than those giving birth in private hospitals to have a normal vaginal birth (56.7% and 36.9% respectively).”

Sometimes difficult to access, the information can be found. You are perfectly entitled to ask your chosen care provider what their statistics are.

The MyBirth website contains statistics on most hospitals which makes very interesting reading http://www.mybirth.com.au/birth-stats/ For example; if you’re planning a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) the hospital with the highest VBAC success rate in NSW (2009) is Bega Hospital – 38.1%. Private Hospitals in NSW average 7.4% success rate (so an average of 92.6% end with a caesarean section). Public Hospitals in NSW average 13.44% success rate (so an average of 86.56% end with a caesarean section). Clicking onto various Independent Midwives VBAC Success rates produces results ranging from 82-90%. Food for thought.

As health care providers I think we need to take a serious look at these statistics and reflect on our own practice. As women, we need to research, research and do some more research. Educate ourselves and make informed choices. Remember, it’s Your Body, Your Birth and Your Baby.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report can be found at

MyBirth statistics can be found at

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