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BJOG. 2012 Nov;119(12):1483-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03446.x. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Effects of continuity of care by a primary midwife (caseload midwifery) on caesarean section rates in women of low obstetric risk: the COSMOS randomised controlled trial.

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Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.



To determine whether primary midwife care (caseload midwifery) decreases the caesarean section rate compared with standard maternity care.


Randomised controlled trial.


Tertiary-care women's hospital in Melbourne, Australia.


A total of 2314 low-risk pregnant women.


Women randomised to caseload received antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum care from a primary midwife with some care by 'back-up' midwives. Women randomised to standard care received either midwifery or obstetric-trainee care with varying levels of continuity, or community-based general practitioner care.



caesarean birth. Secondary outcomes included instrumental vaginal births, analgesia, perineal trauma, induction of labour, infant admission to special/neonatal intensive care, gestational age, Apgar scores and birthweight.


In total 2314 women were randomised-1156 to caseload and 1158 to standard care. Women allocated to caseload were less likely to have a caesarean section (19.4% versus 24.9%; risk ratio [RR] 0.78; 95% CI 0.67-0.91; P = 0.001); more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth (63.0% versus 55.7%; RR 1.13; 95% CI 1.06-1.21; P < 0.001); less likely to have epidural analgesia (30.5% versus 34.6%; RR 0.88; 95% CI 0.79-0.996; P = 0.04) and less likely to have an episiotomy (23.1% versus 29.4%; RR 0.79; 95% CI 0.67-0.92; P = 0.003). Infants of women allocated to caseload were less likely to be admitted to special or neonatal intensive care (4.0% versus 6.4%; RR 0.63; 95% CI 0.44-0.90; P = 0.01). No infant outcomes favoured standard care.


In settings with a relatively high baseline caesarean section rate, caseload midwifery for women at low obstetric risk in early pregnancy shows promise for reducing caesarean births.

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