News

Pregnant women not being told of their options for maternity care

19 Jul 2013

A Queensland-wide survey has revealed that very few women say they are informed about all available options for maternity care in Queensland when visiting a GP in early pregnancy.

Research at The University of Queensland’s Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies (QCMB) found that a GP is the first care provider seen in pregnancy by the vast majority (88%) of Queensland women.

Of these women, only 7.7% report that their GP discussed with them all the maternity care options available.

Researcher Gabrielle Stevens, who is investigating women’s decision-making for their type of maternity care, said it was concerning so few women reported being told of all their options by primary care providers, as this may severely limit women’s abilities to make informed maternity care choices.

The research is based on data from the QCMB’s Having a Baby In Queensland Survey program, a biannual survey of thousands of Queensland mothers, run in conjunction with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

“In recent years there has been a rapid expansion in the range of maternity care options available to women, both publicly and privately,” Miss Stevens said.

“In order for women to choose the type of care that will best meet their individual needs, preferences and circumstances, they need access to information early in pregnancy to make these decisions based on sufficient knowledge of all options available to them.”

QCMB director Professor Sue Kruske said GPs played a very important role in this process, as they were essentially the gatekeepers to maternity care in Queensland for a large majority of women.

Professor Kruske said the centre was working to provide women with access to quality information on maternity care options, including an information sheet aimed at helping women consider all their options for maternity care before first visiting a care provider in pregnancy.

“These resources will hopefully better prepare women to ask the relevant questions and choose the care that best suits them,” Professor Kruske said.

“GPs also need better support and mechanisms to allow them to be informed about women’s maternity care options and the benefits and risks of these, in order for them to provide this information to women in their care.”

She said women could explore their maternity care options at a range of facilities across Queensland via the online Birthplace tool here.

Media: Professor Sue Kruske, 0418 882 337.