Saskatoon

U of S-UBC study finds that low-income women and babies benefit from prenatal care led by a midwife

The study found that vulnerable women under care of a midwife were about two-and-a-half times more likely to attend prenatal appointments and that when they did receive prenatal care, they were less likely to go into labour early and their babies were born healthier.

Lead author cites 'trust...emotional and social support' by midwives as key to success

The study from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia followed almost 58,00 women who were under prenatal care from a midwife. (Martha Irvine/Associated Press)

A new study by the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia suggests that low-income women and their babies benefit greatly from prenatal care by a midwife.

Midwives are available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week for their patients.- Daphne McRae

The study found that vulnerable women under care of a midwife were about two-and-a-half times more likely to attend prenatal appointments and that when they did receive prenatal care, they were less likely to go into labour early and their babies were born healthier. 

"Across the board, in all outcomes, women were doing better in the care of midwives," Daphne McRae, a post-doctoral research fellow at UBC and the study's lead author, said in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

A new study has found that low income women benefit significantly from the services of a midwife. Mothers were less likely to go into early labour or have a baby with a low birth weight. The study was conducted by the Universities of Saskatchewan and British Columbia. It was published (WED) in the British Medical Journal Open. 7:27
The study's author believes the findings could lead to policy change that would make the services of a midwife more accessible to low income women, no matter where they live. (CBC)

Building relationships

The study followed about 58,000 low-income women in British Columbia over seven years and found that they were 2.3 to 2.5 times more likely to attend prenatal care led by a midwife, as opposed to a physician.

McRae suggested that it all comes down to "the amount of trust and the amount of emotional and social support that midwives are able to offer."

"Midwifery care is a relationship-based model and there is a lot of contact made between practitioners and their patients."

"Midwives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for their patients," she said.

A call for access

McRae said building that relationship allows midwives to begin addressing potential high-risk behaviours like poor nutrition or drug and alcohol use, then changing those behaviours to make sure women have the best birthing experience possible. 

"Women are learning about how to care for themselves and their babies," McRae said.

She said researchers at the U of S and UBC hope their findings could help develop policies that would help low-income women access midwife care no matter where they live.

with files from Saskatoon Morning