Outcomes of the first midwife-led birth centre in Italy: 5 years' experience

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2007 Oct;276(4):333-7. doi: 10.1007/s00404-007-0358-9. Epub 2007 Apr 5.


Objective: To assess the experience of the first 5 years of the first midwife-led birth centre (MLBC) in Italy.

Study design: Data were prospectively collected to analyse the first 5 years' experience of the MLBC. MLBC is located alongside a University hospital maternity unit and it offers care to women with a straightforward pregnancy and midwives take primary professional responsibility for care. Women with maternal diseases, complicated obstetric history, height < 150 cm, maternal age > 45, or multiple pregnancy were excluded. Transfer was request in case of antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum pathological conditions.

Results: During the 5-year period (1 January 2001-31 December 2005), 1,438 low-risk women were admitted in labour to the MLBC. Of these, 203 (14.1%) were transferred during labour to consultant care (138 because of pathologies and 65 because of request of epidural analgesia). Among the transfers, the caesarean sections were 87, corresponding to 6.1% (87/1,438) of the total of women admitted to MLBC, while the operative vaginal deliveries were 14, corresponding to 1.0% (14/1,438) of the total of women admitted to MLBC. Among women who gave birth in the MLBC, episiotomy rate was 17.1%.

Conclusions: In Italy, in the passed 10 years, the caesarean section rate reached 60%, in some regions. According to our data, the first 5 years of activity of the first MLBC in Italy had been associated with a low rate of medical interventions during labour and birth, with high rates of spontaneous vaginal birth and without signs of complications. We hope that this experience could be taken as a model to improve the quality of maternity care in Italy.

MeSH terms

  • Birthing Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Nurse Midwives*
  • Patient Transfer / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prospective Studies
  • Workforce