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Spotlight on regional access to maternity care

Researchers will explore how regional families experience the challenges of childbirth.

A NSW study on childbirth will document the experiences and expectations of regional and rural families as they access maternity care.

The research to be conducted by Shari Bonnette from the University of Queensland will identify the most significant issues regional families face because of geography.

Bonnette said it's not unusual for some families to travel thousands of kilometres to access maternity care during pregnancy.

“The study seeks to explore families' information seeking, decision-making, options of maternity care and expectations regarding childbirth – as well as whether their experiences met these expectations,” she said.

Bonnette said it was important to explore specific issues raised in the 2009 Australian Government Maternity Services Review.

The review revealed maternity care is often not consistent with consumer expectation and the ability for families to make informed decisions was inadequate.

“We'd like to hear a range of experiences from families – those who access GP care, midwifery care, homebirth or have chosen an unassisted birth,” Bonnette said.

The study will also explore the perspective of maternity care providers including midwives, GPs and obstetricians working in rural areas.

“These care providers may face barriers to living and providing care in rural and regional towns including access to skills, models of care, significant time restrictions for consultations and a shortage of professionals.

“Partners are also an integral part of the pregnancy and birth experience, so it's really important to hear from not only women, but their partners too.”

Families in the last trimester of pregnancy and those with recent experiences of childbirth (six weeks post birth) will be recruited to participate in the study.

Bonnette is supported by supervisors Associate Professor Alex Broom from the University of Queensland and Professor Caroline Homer from The University of Technology, Sydney.

To participate or for further information contact Shari Bonnette on 0467 596 597 or [email protected]

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