Pregnant woman standing near tree

WCHM Submission to Maternity Services Inquiry

WCHM put in a submission to the ACT Legislative Assembly’s Maternity Services Inquiry which focussed on our knowledge of the views of ACT women from our consultations:

  • WCHM’s consultation in 2015-16 which explored women’s experience of accessing maternal care in the ACT, collected the stories from women about their experiences, and informed how well the current levels of care met the needs of women and the opportunities to improve local responses. The final report was published in May 2016 and it summarised the results of the consultation and provided the feedback and narratives of 171 women who had given birth for the first time in the ACT or Queanbeyan, since August 2013.
  • We advised the Inquiry about women telling us about the need for better information, and how WCHM has developed the Having A Baby In Canberra website as a centralised source of local ACT information for women (and their partners and families) and which helps women to make informed decisions and choices at all stages of their pregnancy. We informed the Committee that is has attracted over 14,000 visits from 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2018.
  • We also shared findings from late 2018, when WCHM explored the views of smaller groups of ACT women through focus groups about their understanding of the models of care for maternity in the ACT and what they mean, their experience of finding out about their options, and their feedback about their experiences of maternity. We also sought the views of services working with women post birth in the community.
  • Although the inquiry was about the provision of maternity services, we reminded the Committee that women’s health and wellbeing can be impacted on by the way they experience maternity services, and the importance that women place on their experience of the care they received, including that women’s views are at the centre of maternity care.
  • We also identified continuity of care as an important aspect of having a baby, especially during the postnatal period when the continuity of care and supports need to be available outside of the hospital system and provided in locally accessible places for women both prior to and after the birth.
  • And we reminded the Inquiry of the importance of well-resourced continuity of care and additional support in the postnatal care system, including providing breastfeeding and mental health supports, and the resulting long term social and health benefits as well as savings in the clinical health system (such as shorter hospital stays post birth, and reductions in readmissions to hospital and other entry points of the health system).

You can read the submission here.