What is continuity of carer?
The term “continuity of carer” means having the same midwife or clinical team throughout the three phases of your maternity journey: pregnancy, labour, and the post-natal period.
How does it differ to traditional care?
Usually, women will see various midwifes and other members of the clinical team throughout her pregnancy. Most areas are now in the process of implementing the continuity of carer model. Each area will be at different stages as to how they can offer this, so it may vary depending on where you live.
If this model of care is not yet implemented in your area, they will still provide you with the best care they can. But seeing different healthcare professionals can sometimes mean having to mean repeat your story or circumstances several times. This can be frustrating, or even upsetting for some women.
What are the benefits of continuity of carer?
Women who received continuity of midwifery care:
- 7x more likely to be attended at birth by a known midwife
- 16% less likely to lose their baby
- 19% less likely to lose their baby before 24 weeks
- 15% less likely to have regional analgesia
- 24% less likely to experience pre-term birth
- 16% less likely to have an episiotomy
Further benefits include:
How to receive continuity of carer
Speak to the midwife about the availability of continuity of care in your local area, and if it’s not available, what the plan is to establish this for everyone in your area, and when this will happen.
Unfortunately, you don’t have a legal right to continuity of care, but the Government want to see everyone being cared for by the same midwife or small team of midwives as soon as possible.
In May 2019, the NHS announced a £40 million fund to improve maternity services to ensure women have the same midwife throughout their pregnancy. Read more here.
You might find you are more likely to receive continuity of care if you choose options such as a home birth, or if you pay for private/independent midwifery care.
Can I ask to change my midwife?
Yes, if you’re not happy with the care you’re receiving, you may ask to see someone else and you are not obligated to give a reason for this. You can ask your Head of Midwifery to see a different midwife or Clinical Lead for Maternity to see a different doctor.
If you’re not being listened to, you can make a complaint.
You can learn more about what to expect from NHS antenatal care here.