Midwife-led care beneficial compared with other models for childbearing women.

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A Cochrane Collaboration review published in October 2008 confirms that midwife-led care confers benefits for pregnant women and their babies and is recommended.

The review, co-authored by Professor Jane Sandall, former co-chair of the ICM Research Standing Committee, is summarised as follows:

'In many parts of the world, midwives are the primary providers of care for childbearing women. Elsewhere it may be medical doctors or family physicians who have the main responsibility ...

'The underpinning philosophy of midwife-led care is normality and being cared for by a known and trusted midwife during labour. There is an emphasis on the natural ability of women to experience birth with minimum intervention....

'The review of midwife-led care covered midwives providing care antenatally, during labour and postnatally. This was compared with models of medical-led care and shared care, and identified 11 trials, involving 12,276 women. Midwife-led care was associated with several benefits for mothers and babies, and had no identified adverse effects. The main benefits were a reduced risk of losing a baby before 24 weeks. Also during labour, there was a reduced use of regional analgesia, with fewer episiotomies or...

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