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Midwifery-led care in South Australia: Looking back to move forward

McKellar, Lois; Newnham, Elizabeth; Fleet, Julie-Anne; Adelson, Pamela


Elizabeth Newnham

Julie-Anne Fleet

Pamela Adelson


From the 1980s to the turn of the century, Australia saw an evolution of midwifery-led models of care, in part due to legislative reform and federal funding, but largely owing to the efforts of strong midwifery leaders and consumers who rallied for the implementation of alternative models of care. Through persistence and extensive collaboration, the first South Australian birth centres were established.

To better understand the evolution of midwifery-led care in South Australia and identify the drivers and impediments to inform the upscaling of midwifery models into the future.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten midwifery leaders and/or those instrumental in setting up birth centres and midwifery-led care in South Australia. Data was analysed using thematic analysis.

Three overarching themes and several sub-themes were identified, these included: ‘Midwifery suffragettes’ which explored ‘activism’, ‘adversity’ and ‘advocacy’; ‘Building bridges’ captured the importance of ‘gathering midwives’, a ‘movement of women’ and ‘champions and influencers’; and ‘Recognising midwifery’ identified the strong ‘sense of identity’ needed to outface ‘ignorance and opposition’ and the importance of ‘role reformation’.

These midwifery leaders provide insight into an era of change in the history of midwifery in South Australia and contribute valuable learnings. In order to move forward, midwives must continue to embrace the political nature of midwifery, enact authentic, transformational leadership and engage women across all levels of influence. It is critical that midwives pursue equity in professional recognition, work collaboratively to provide quality, woman-centred maternity care and expand midwifery continuity of care models.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 21, 2020
Online Publication Date Nov 7, 2020
Publication Date 2021-09
Deposit Date Jun 6, 2022
Journal Women and Birth
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 5
Pages e537-e545
Keywords Midwifery-led care, Midwifery leaders, Birth centres, Midwifery history, Midwives Australia
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