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BHI’s first report on maternity services in NSW

BHI’s first report on maternity services in NSW

Pregnancy and childbirth brings with it many expectations, worries, fears and hopes. For first-time mothers, childbirth can represent a series of firsts: the first time a woman experiences the biological and physiological changes of pregnancy; the first time she or her partner goes through the psychological and social adjustments related to becoming, gradually, parents.

It is also - for many - a series of firsts with regards to interactions with the healthcare system. The first time a mother might feel like a patient or the first time parents might closely interact with healthcare providers. Going to hospital to give birth may be the first time a woman will ever stay in a hospital overnight. While, for some, this happens in a context of compromised health and significant risk factors, for the majority, this happens in a context of relative health.

BHI today released a Patient Perspectives report that looks at the care provided to women during pregnancy, during labour and delivery, in NSW public hospitals following the birth of the baby and then care after leaving the hospital. This report is a first for BHI – the first time we have reported on information from mothers about their maternity care experiences and we have created a short video to showcase some of the results which you can view here:

This new report draws on new data collected through the Maternity Care Survey across NSW public hospitals. Using a questionnaire developed in collaboration with the Kolling Institute, the survey assesses if the right care was provided and if it was provided in the right way, to meet expectations and needs of mothers to be.

In the report, we present results for NSW and include survey results by hospital and by local health district. Survey results are also available on our interactive data portal Healthcare Observer. Basic results for each hospital have been included in our popular search application for you to check your local hospital’s performance.

From a public health perspective, pregnancy is an opportunity to act to ensure the best start in life for a baby, and also in terms of screening for emerging health problems. It is an opportunity for prevention and promotion of a healthy lifestyle as well as ensuring the baby’s optimal development. Acting on this opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle during antenatal care is paramount.

On this front, the report shows that a sizeable proportion of women said they were not given advice about healthy weight gain (29%), the risks of alcohol consumption (13%), or exposure to tobacco smoke (13%) during pregnancy. Almost all women said they had skin to skin contact with their newborn baby; that they had a follow-up visit from a healthcare professional within two weeks of going home; and that they were asked how they were feeling emotionally following the birth.

The report highlights the good care provided across NSW public hospitals overall to ensure appropriate antenatal care, a safe delivery, an enjoyable experience of care during the hospital stay where learning about how to care for the mother and baby is supported, as well as responsive follow-up care after leaving hospital to ensure that any early signs of problems or need for support are responded to.

Page updated: 25 Feb 2020