Mater Researchers launch new obstetric care model for pregnant women with diabetes


A team of clinician-based Mater Researchers are leading the way launching a new Australian-first innovative model of care for pregnant women with diabetes.

The Obstetric Midwifery Group Practice, to be based at Mater Mothers’ Hospital, will support women with pre-existing diabetes and provide them with a hybrid care model, encompassing everything a traditional midwifery group practice offers, alongside an added layer of obstetric medicine.

Pregnant women with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have traditionally been unable to participate in Midwifery Group Practices for their antenatal care due to their pregnancy being deemed high-risk due to their diabetes. Associate Professor Shelley Wilkinson said that a traditional Midwifery Group Practice accepts women with low-risk pregnancies and has excellent outcomes and continuity of care for women and babies.

“Midwifery Group Practices are a brilliant, evidence-based model of care in which low-risk women are allocated a primary midwife who, supported by obstetricians, provide their care throughout their pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal period,” Associate Professor Wilkinson said.

“Unfortunately, many women are unable to participate due to pre-existing illnesses and conditions like Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, cardiac and renal complications, and/or high pre-pregnancy weight.”

After collecting nine-months’ worth of baseline data from 100 women using the current model-of-care, the Researchers will review clinical outcomes and analyse the findings to inform the Obstetric Midwifery Group Practice pilot program, due to officially launch later this year.

“We have been looking at things like how many of these babies spent time in the special care nursery. We will also survey these women six-weeks after they give birth to get their full reflection on the model,” Associate Professor Wilkinson said.

Director of Obstetric Medicine at Mater Mothers’ Hospital Dr Jo Laurie said that eligible pregnant women with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes will be offered a place in the program when they book their antenatal care.

“The early days of pregnancy are absolutely critical for women with diabetes, as high blood glucose levels during the embryonic stage can lead to problems with the baby,” Dr Laurie said.

“Obstetric Midwifery Group Practice midwives will be upskilled in these higher risk pregnancies, which will help with the woman’s journey, as too often women fall the through the cracks when they’re going to a range of different services.”

“In the Obstetric Midwifery Group Practice, a midwife will provide full wrap around care by attending appointments with women when they see members of the treating team such as the obstetrician and the obstetric medicine physician.”

“We believe that this will create a better journey for women. And by upskilling birth suite midwives in diabetes care, it will also hopefully keep these babies out of the special care nursery and with their mums for that precious early bonding time.

Click here to learn more about Mater Research’s Mother and Baby research programs.

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