Background: The impact of midwifery versus physician care on perinatal outcomes in a population of women planning birth in hospital has not yet been explored. We compared maternal and newborn outcomes between women planning hospital birth attended by a midwife versus a physician in British Columbia, Canada.
Methods: All women planning a hospital birth attended by a midwife during the 2-year study period who were of sufficiently low-risk status to meet eligibility requirements for home birth as defined by the British Columbia College of Midwives were included in the study group (n=488). The comparison group included women meeting the same eligibility requirements but planning a physician-attended birth in hospitals where midwives also practiced (n=572). Outcomes were ascertained from the British Columbia Reproductive Care Program Perinatal Registry to which all hospitals in the province submit data.
Results: Adjusted odds ratios for women planning hospital birth attended by a midwife versus a physician were significantly reduced for exposure to cesarean section (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.39-0.86), narcotic analgesia (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.18-0.37), electronic fetal monitoring (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.16-0.30), amniotomy (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.56-0.98), and episiotomy (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.42-0.93). The odds of adverse neonatal outcomes were not different between groups, with the exception of reduced use of drugs for resuscitation at birth (OR 0.19, 95% CI 0.04-0.83) in the midwifery group.
Conclusions: A shift toward greater proportions of midwife-attended births in hospitals could result in reduced rates of obstetric interventions, with similar rates of neonatal morbidity.