EXPECTANT mothers in the north are to benefit from having the same midwives through their pregnancy and post-birth under a new healthcare model.
The Continuity of Midwifery Carer (CoMC) model is being rolled out across the north's health trusts, bringing them into line with the rest of the UK.
CoMC teams are being established in the five trust areas, and will allow for pregnant women to develop relationships with the same midwife or midwives through to the early parenting period.
The model was launched this week at a Stormont event attended by the north's chief nursing officer, Maria McIlgorm.
Attendees heard how midwife continuity of care improves clinical outcomes for women.
“The establishment of a regional CoMC model of care will benefit users of maternity services across Northern Ireland, improve care for expectant mothers and babies, and contribute to improved population health,” Ms McIlgorm said.
Mum Bevin O’Donnell told the event of her experience with the model in the Northern Trust area.
“I was able to quickly develop a strong, trusting relationship with my fantastic named midwife,” she said.
“During my pregnancy, we fully discussed my choices, preferences and concerns, giving me confidence for the journey ahead. Throughout all stages of my care I felt supported as the primary decision maker.
“I would highly recommend the continuity of carer model. It leads to safe, patient-centred care that empowers women. It is a fantastic service that should be the norm for all.”
Michelle Harrison, midwife consultant at the Public Health Agency, said each health trust in the north "has been forging ahead to ensure that the essential building blocks are in place to support the implementation of this new model of care".
“Over the next few months it is anticipated that all trusts will have at least one team established," she said.
“Women will be able to decide if they wish to benefit from this model of care and will meet their named midwife at their antenatal booking appointment.
“The CoMC Team will provide 24/7 availability for labour and birth and will support women in all birth choice settings. The named midwife will also support a woman during discharge from hospital, if that is where she had her baby, will visit her at home after the birth, and will co-ordinate the handover of care to the Health Visitor, to ensure the mother and baby get the care they need.”
Dr Dale Spence, midwifery officer at the Department of Health, said: “This is a proud moment for women, midwives, and maternity services in Northern Ireland."