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Resources

MUNet aims to promote and support the implementation, development and growth of midwifery units. We want midwifery units to become the main care pathway for healthy women with straightforward pregnancies.

Midwifery Unit Standards
Midwifery Unit Standards

The aim of the Midwifery Unit Standards is to improve the quality of maternity care, reduce variability of practices and facilitate a bio-psycho-social model of care. They address the guidance gap in implementation...
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Midwifery Unit Network: First Three Years
Midwifery Unit Network: First Three Years

This report, prepared for our London 2018 conference, celebrates what we have achieved during our first three years and describes our plans for the future. It sets out our latest vision, mission and values....
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RCM Birth Centres Standards-UK
RCM Birth Centres Standards-UK

This document sets out standards that are specifically applicable to the provision of care, staffing and environment of midwifery birth centres in England, in line with Government policy and existing regulatory...
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Policy

Philosophy of care and policy on midwifery unit care
Philosophy of care and policy on midwifery unit care

This policy research briefing sets out what is meant by a midwifery unit and some of the history and philosophy behind midwifery unit care. It describes how midwifery-led units have been established in...
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Evidence of clinical effectiveness
Evidence of clinical effectiveness

This policy research briefing provides a summary of the clinical effectiveness associated with midwifery unit care in England, and comments on the extent to which research in England is transferable to...
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Better Births: Improving outcomes of maternity services in England. A Five Year Forward View for maternity care. NHS England 2016

The report of a major consultation and review of maternity services in England and Wales, published in 2016.

NCT Policy Briefing: midwife-led units, community maternity units and birth centres, NCT 2011

NCT is a UK charity providing information and support to parents. This document discusses the social model of care, the environment and facilities available in birth centres, and who can book care in a birth centre. It summarises latest outcomes evidence associated with both freestanding and alongside midwifery units, including costs and cost effectiveness.

Guidance & Toolkits

Children, young people and maternity services. Health Building Note: Maternity care facilities.
Children, young people and maternity services. Health Building Note: Maternity care facilities.

Summary: Practical guidance from the Department of Health (England) for those building maternity services, including midwifery units. ...
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Freestanding Midwifery Units: Local, high quality maternity care.
Busting the myths. Royal College of Midwives 2011

This document outlines the care offered by Freestanding Midwifery Units and answers many frequently asked questions about this type of service.

Midwifery and Human Rights: A Practitioner’s Guide, BIHR 2016

This Guide, produced by the British Institute of Human Rights, has been developed to support midwives to deliver maternity services that respect human rights by providing accessible information about human rights and how they are relevant in a maternity context. It specifically relates to UK Human Rights law and English health policies and services, but may be of use to those in other countries.

Increasing the number of births at home and in midwifery led units: A best practice toolkit. London Strategic Clinical Networks 2015
Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2014

The English National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on intrapartum care. Most recently updated in February 2017.

Quality Standards

Quality Standard for Intrapartum Care, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 2015

This quality standard, produced by the English National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) describes high-quality care in priority areas. It covers the care of women and their babies during labour and immediately after the birth and includes women who go into labour at term, women at low risk of complications during labour and those who go on to develop complications.

The Birthplace In England Research Programme and related studies

What makes alongside midwifery-led units? Lessons from a national research project
What makes alongside midwifery-led units? Lessons from a national research project

A summary, written for midwives, of the findings from the organisational case studies of alongside midwifery units. This short article outlines practical suggestions for what may help AMUs function effectively. ...
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The Birthplace in England Research Programme. National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, 2012

The strongest evidence we have to date on the safety of different planned places of birth in England. The Birthplace cohort study compared the safety of births planned in four settings: home, freestanding midwifery units (FMUs), alongside midwifery units (AMUs) and obstetric units (OUs). The main findings relate to healthy women with straightforward pregnancies who meet the NICE intrapartum care guideline criteria for a ‘low risk’ birth.

An ethnographic organisational study of alongside midwifery units

A ethnographic study focussing on the organisation, care and user experiences in four Alongside Midwifery Units in England.

Economic Evaluations

The economic costs of intrapartum care in Tower Hamlets

This study compares the economic costs of intrapartum maternity care in an inner city area for ‘low risk’ women opting to give birth in a freestanding midwifery unit compared with those who chose birth in hospital.

Reference: Schroeder L, Patel N, Keeler M, Rocca-Ihenacho L, McFarlane A (2017) ‘The economic costs of intrapartum care in Tower Hamlets: a comparison between the cost of birth in a freestanding midwifery unit and hospital for women at low risk of obstetric complications’. Midwifery, 45:28-35

Cost effectiveness of alternative planned places of birth in woman at low risk of complications

A full evaluation of the cost effectiveness of planned birth at home, in a freestanding and alongside midwifery units, as compared with birth planned in an obstetric unit. This study drew on the data from the Birthplace in England Research Programme Cohort Study.

Reference: Schroeder, E.; S. Petrou; N. Patel; J. Hollowell; D. Puddicombe; M. Redshaw; P. Brocklehurst (2012) ‘Cost effectiveness of alternative planned places of birth in woman at low risk of complications: evidence from the Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study’ BMJ 344

Published Research

General

Birth centres: a social model for maternity care.

The first comprehensive published book on Birth Centres, this book discusses the issues surrounding birth centres in England using the Edgware Birth Centre as a case study, and birth centres across the world.

Reference: Kirkham M (2003) Birth centres: a social model for maternity care. Books for Midwives.

An ethnographic study of a freestanding midwifery unit in an English town.

Reference: Walsh D (2006) ‘Improving Maternity Services: the epidemiologically based needs assessment reviews, Vol 2: Small is Beautiful – lessons from a birth centre’. CRC Press

Service Users

Creating a Better Birth Environment: Women’s views about the design and facilities in maternity units: a national survey
Creating a Better Birth Environment: Women’s views about the design and facilities in maternity units: a national survey

Summary: A survey of 2000 British women on their experiences of birthing in the UK maternity services, with a focus on environment and facilities. ...
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Last Updated14th November 2018

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Making evidence about risks and benefits accessible to parents

This short article gives practical suggestions to practitioners on supporting women to make decisions about place of birth.

Reference: Coxon, K. (2012) ‘Making evidence about risks and benefits accessible to parents’ NCT Perspective. Issue 16

Survey of women’s experiences of care in a new freestanding midwifery unit in an inner city area of London

This article compares women’s choices and experiences of maternity care before and after the opening of the Barkantine Birth Centre, a freestanding midwifery unit in an inner city area of London.

Reference: McFarlane, A. J. et al. (2014) ‘Survey of women’s experiences of care in a new freestanding midwifery unit in an inner city area of London, England – 1: Methods and women’s overall ratings of care’ Midwifery 30 (9): 998-1008

Birthplace choices: what are the information needs of women when choosing where to give birth in England?

A qualitative study of women’s decision-making around place of birth. This research focussed on how and from whom women received information that helped them to make choices about where to have their babies.

Reference: Hinton, L., Dumelow, C., Rowe, R. and Hollowell, J. (2018) ‘Birthplace choices: what are the information needs of women when choosing where to give birth in England? A qualitative study using online and face to face focus groups’ BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 18 (12)

Staffing, Workforce, Skills & Training

The efficient use of the maternity workforce and the implications for safety and quality in maternity care

A report on a study exploring the relationships between staffing models and clinical outcomes in English maternity services.

Reference: Sandall et al (2014) ‘The efficient use of the maternity workforce and the implications for safety and quality in maternity care: a population-based, cross-sectional study’. Health Services & Delivery Research. Vol 2 Issue 38.

Conference Presentations

On the 2nd July 2015, the National Childbirth Trust held an event ‘Midwifery-led care and choice of place of birth: facilitating change through sharing research and good practice’ ; at the University of Birmingham. Further details, hand outs and presentations are available here.

Conferences – Icon made by Icon Pond from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY
Published research – Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

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