Integrated Shared Care
In the modern, complex health care milieu, it is understood that single providers or disciplines are no longer able to meet the needs of individual clients/patients. In maternity care, health professionals must work together in inter-professional teams for the benefit of women and their infants and families. Collaborative care is a relationship between providers—such as midwives, nurses, physicians, social workers, cultural and spiritual healers, and others—that is built on respect and understanding of the unique and complementary skills that each provider brings to the situation to influence optimal outcomes for women, newborns and families.
Informed Shared Decision-Making
Women need to be fully informed in order to make good decisions regarding pregnancy, birth, postpartum, lactation and infant feeding, parenting, and ongoing personal and family wellness. Collaborative care that involves clear, open, honest, and regular communication with clients/patients, and among providers, ensures the best chance for women and their partners to make well-considered decisions. In order for midwives to be functional and effective members of the interdisciplinary health care team, they must be fully integrated into systems of care. Unlike other Western countries where midwifery is the central pillar in maternity care, the situation is not optimal in the United States. There is significant work that has yet to be done for midwifery to be accepted and well integrated into the American health care system, and for the collaborative care model to work optimally. Fortunately, supporters of midwifery care are working hard to make this a reality.
Most midwives and midwifery organization agree that a collaborative model of maternity care not only improves maternal and infant outcomes, is cost-effective, elevates client satisfaction, is preferred by health care providers, and increases accountability but it is the safest way to provide care to pregnant and birthing women. And safety is what is most important to mothers and families.