The Midwifery Council welcomes new research findings

A study published in March has found that there is no higher risk of baby death in New Zealand attributable to midwives in their first year of practice compared to more experienced midwives.

 Chair of the Midwifery Council, Chris Mallon, says this study, published in the British Medical Journal (Open), is important as it confirms the findings of the Council’s own data tracking and risk analysis - that there is no increased risk associated with the care provided by new graduate midwives.

The research was commissioned by the Ministry of Health following a New Zealand paper published in 2015 reported that there was increased risk of death of babies whose mothers were under the care of midwives in their first year of practice compared to more experienced midwives.

Ms Mallon says that this new research refutes that finding. "This study showed there is no increased risk of baby death attributable to midwives in their first year of practice when compared with midwives beyond their first year of practice. It also shows new graduate midwives are caring for women with higher risks such as women who smoke, are overweight, and those from areas with higher socioeconomic deprivation. When these complexities were accounted for there was no increased risk. This is an important and reassuring finding for New Zealand women and their families who can have confidence in the new graduate midwife providing their care.“

 "The Midwifery Council supports quality research which gives us insight into how to ensure the best outcomes for women and babies,” Ms Mallon says. "This research has provided us with an area to investigate further as it identified that there was an increased risk of perinatal mortality among women cared for by midwives who cared for fewer than 30 women per year. The researchers felt that this should be a focus of further study and the Council would support this.

“Our first priority is always the safety of mothers and babies as the Council is the regulatory body set up to protect the public by making sure midwives are competent and fit to practise. The findings of this study tell us that the Bachelor degrees in Midwifery, the Midwifery First Year of Practice Programme, and other networks of support surrounding the new graduate are leading to good outcomes for mothers and babies.”