GPs leaving women in the dark about maternity care

THOUSANDS of Queensland women have told of knowing too little about maternity options, with more than 90% not fully satisfied with the feedback from their general practitioners.

A massive survey of 20,000 women who gave birth in late 2011 and early 2012 felt that first critical meeting with their GP did not give them enough information to make an educated opinion.

These options included the ability for expecting mothers to seek out private midwives in place of finding a private obstetrician.

The data showed 88% of women went to their GP in early pregnancy, but only 7.7% felt they were given enough information on the range of maternity options.

University of Queensland and its Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies worked alongside Births, Deaths and Marriages to gather the data from new mothers.

QCMB director Professor Sue Kruske said blame should not fall on GPs because not only were these options very new, they would have to know what was available beyond what is already a broad expertise.

"There is no mechanism to help GPs keep abreast of what (maternity) models are available, particularly for those keen to travel outside their local area," Prof Kruske said.

"The traditions of maternity are changing and we all have a responsibility to women to allow them to choose what is most appropriate for them."

QCMB developed a range of information, published online, that helps tell women what care is available.

Prof Kruske said ideally, women would know all their options before meeting their GP for what may be a 15 minute appointment.

The role of the GP remains a hallowed position, particularly in regional or remote areas where there is no access to specialist care.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Christian Rowan said birth and pregnancy were "a profound and important experience for women" and qualified doctors were the best-equipped to ensure a safe pregnancy.



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