What is continuity of care in pregnancy?
A true continuity scheme means you meet the same midwife for all your antenatal appointments, she/he attends when you are in labour & giving birth, and then provides care for you and your baby in the early days afterwards. In reality, this is almost impossible for the overstretched NHS to provide and even in the best case it is unlikely that you will be able to choose your midwife. In many areas there are teams, meaning that you see a member of the same team at each consultation. This can work really well, but equally you can be unlucky and end up seeing a different member of the team each time. These teams may not be involved in your care if you are admitted to hospital, either for the birth or for other reasons.
Why does continuity of care matter?
Many studies have shown that that women who receive continuity of midwifery care are more satisfied with their experience and are less likely to experience preterm births or to lose their baby in pregnancy or in the first month following birth. Three years ago “Better Births” was published as a blueprint for developing NHS maternity services . One of the key issues to be addressed was the fact that many women met a different midwife each time they had contact with the maternity services. Several different ways to address this are being trialled. Read more about why this matters here.
In practical terms, if you see a number of different midwives and this is your first baby; you have particular concerns about your baby; have concerns based on previous experiences or other particular needs, it can feel confusing or unclear who you can talk to and when.
What are your options?
In an ideal world, you would meet a midwife who would hear and understand your story and your hopes and fears. That midwife could then walk with you through your pregnancy, providing information, supporting and helping you as you navigate the path towards being a mum to this new little person (or people!)
If you’re not currently experiencing continuity of care, contact your maternity unit and ask what they can offer you. If they are not currently able to offer you true continuity, you may want to consider employing a private midwife.
In some cases that means stepping away from NHS care. Alternatively you may choose a private midwife who offers to work in conjunction with the NHS, so that you only pay for the extra services you want. This can work well if you prefer to, or need to, birth in hospital. This option can be a very cost effective way to build a relationship with a midwife of your choice.
The private midwives working with The Luna Hive have a range of backgrounds and special interests. We are always happy to chat with you about what is important for you, to help you decide if working with us might be for you. We want you to have the most fulfilling, enjoyable and safe pregnancy and birth, so please do contact one (or more) of us if you have any questions.
Angie is a private midwife in Surrey and Sussex. To find out more about the services she offers, click on her profile at the top of the page.