Less pregnant women living in the Hauraki region register with a midwife as early as they should compared with the rest of the Waikato District Health Board region.
While an average of 67.3 per cent of pregnant women in the Waikato DHB region registers with a lead maternity carer in the first trimester of pregnancy, that number is just 52 per cent for Hauraki women.
“Improving rates of lead maternity carer registration in the first trimester is a local and national priority to improve the health of pregnant women and health outcomes for mothers and infants,” said Waikato DHB Women’s Health Quality and Safety project manager Ruth Galvin.
“In the Waikato, we are looking at a number of ways to improve early registration with a lead maternity carer, particularly in the Hauraki area, where registration rates are lower.
“We are working with local midwives and the community as well as primary care practices.”
Ms Galvin said that the benefits of registering with a lead maternity carer before the recommended 10 weeks gestation were significant.
Midwife Louise Rowden from Thames Birthing Unit says the sooner a woman registers with a lead maternity carer the better for theirs and their babies’ health.
“If pregnant women register with a lead maternity carer before they are 10 weeks’ pregnant, there is a greater opportunity to offer screening for abnormalities and maternal illness that can affect unborn babies.
“At-risk women (those with an older maternal age, obesity, maternal mental health problems, socioeconomic deprivation, long term health conditions such as diabetes etc.) can be picked up and treated earlier.
“Also the woman is more likely to get the lead maternity carer she wants and has longer to develop a relationship with that person.”
Early registration is one of a number of initiatives to improve maternity quality and safety as part of Waikato DHB’s Maternity and Quality Safety Programme.
As part of the programme, Waikato DHB now receives information from the Ministry of Health maternity data collection.
The data says that in 2012 there were 225 births to women living in the Hauraki territorial authority area.
“This equated to 92 women registering with a lead maternity carer in the second trimester and 14 women registering in the third trimester,” said Ms Galvin.
“Women less likely to register in the first trimester are very young women, Maori and Pacific women, women who are having a second or subsequent pregnancy, women who live in remote rural areas.”
Waikato District Health Board member Sally Christie, who visited Thames Birthing Unit as part of a board tour yesterday, urged Hauraki women to get themselves signed up with a lead maternity carer of their choice as early as possible.
“Early registration with a midwife is clinically very important and is linked to better health outcomes for new mothers and their babies and that’s what’s important at the end of the day.”
Women are encouraged to visit www.findyourmidwife.co.nz as soon as they find out they are pregnant, which lists local midwives and information about them, their availability and contact number.
Alternatively they can drop into reception at Thames Birthing Unit to pick up further information
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