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Maternity Care

Safety and Risk Associated With Free Standing Midwife Led Maternity units November 2012

Safety and risk associated with free standing midwife led maternity units

Key Points

  • Around 3% of births in Scotland are in free standing midwifery units.

  • For women at low risk of birth complications, the incidence of serious perinatal adverse events for the infant is low in all settings of maternity care. This means that very large studies are required to make comparisons of safety in different settings.

  • A large prospective cohort study of women with low-risk pregnancies in England found no significant difference in the rate of a composite outcome of serious adverse events for the baby (including stillbirth, early neonatal death and neonatal encephalopathy) between births planned in free standing midwifery units and births planned in obstetric units.

  • The proportion of normal births (without induction, epidural or spinal analgesia, general anaesthesia, forceps or ventouse delivery, caesarean section or episiotomy) among low-risk women in England was significantly higher for births planned in free standing midwifery units compared with births planned in obstetric units.

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