Objective: To review the safety of team midwifery care, in terms of perinatal mortality, for pregnant women assessed at their first visit as being at low risk of complications.
Design: A cohort study.
Setting: Team midwifery unit (Birth Centre) in a tertiary hospital.
Patients: All women who made a booking and met the selection criteria at their first antenatal visit (3085), excluding those with spontaneous or induced fetal loss before 20 weeks (89) and those who withdrew at their own request to seek an alternative form of care (138); the 2858 remaining women gave birth to 2874 infants.
Main outcome measures: Perinatal mortality rate; and birthweight specific perinatal mortality ratio with reference values being specific rates for birthweight in Victoria for 1984-1985.
Results: The perinatal mortality rate was 7.7 per 1000 births (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.8-11.6) for the whole cohort; for women beginning labour in the Birth Centre it was 1.3 per 1000 births (95% CI, 0.3-3.9). The birthweight standardised perinatal mortality ratio was 80 (95% CI, 50-122).
Conclusion: Within this setting, with explicit criteria for booking and referral, and a framework for consultation, team midwifery care is as safe as the standard maternity care provided within the State.