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Two decades of Birth Centre and midwifery-led care in South Australia, 1998–2016

Adelson, Pamela; Fleet, Julie-Anne; McKellar, Lois; Eckert, Marion


Pamela Adelson

Julie-Anne Fleet

Marion Eckert


Birth Centres (BC) are underpinned by a philosophy of woman- centred care and were pivotal in growing models of midwifery-led care in South Australia (SA).

To describe BC utilisation and the growth of midwifery-led care in SA over the past two decades.

The SA Perinatal Statistics Collection was used to describe women birthing from 1998 to 2016. Number of births through midwifery-led services from 2004 to 2016 were obtained from unit managers. Analyses are descriptive.

Women who birthed in BC in SA from 1998 to 2016 comprised approximately 6% of all births per year, and numbers have remained static. Three BC models operate in SA, all with different capacity. Proportionally, women not born in Australia are as likely to birth in BC as labour wards. The proportion of women who received midwifery-led care (whether affiliated with a BC or not), increased from 8.3% in 1998 to 19.2% of all births in 2016. Of the women who received midwifery-led care in 2016, 15.3% went on to birth in a midwifery-led model of care.

Whilst the overall number of BC births has not increased, women seeking midwifery-led care has more than doubled over the past two decades. BC encompass the midwifery philosophy, quality of care, and a physical home-like environment. The BC models in SA are managed through the three tertiary maternity units enabling women to access publicly funded midwifery care and should be more widely available.


Adelson, P., Fleet, J., McKellar, L., & Eckert, M. (2021). Two decades of Birth Centre and midwifery-led care in South Australia, 1998–2016. Women and Birth, 34(1), e84-e91.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 18, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 6, 2020
Publication Date 2021-02
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2022
Journal Women and Birth
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 1
Pages e84-e91
Keywords Birth Centres, Midwifery-led care, Australia, Antenatal care, Perinatal data
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