The cost of birth in Australia post-COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in women being denied support from their chosen birth partners during labour.

As a result, many women in Australia considered community birth options instead of hospital. This study aimed to quantify the hospital resource savings that could occur if all low-risk women in Australia gave birth in community settings. A statistical model was created to represent all Australian women giving birth in 2017; this comprised a base model, representing ‘current’ care, and a counterfactual model, representing a hypothetical scenario where all low-risk Australian women gave birth at home or in birth centre.

The study found that if all low-risk women gave birth at home in 2017, cesarean rates would have reduced from 13.4% to 2.7%; there would have been 860 fewer inpatient bed days and 10.1 fewer hours of women's intensive care unit time per 1000 births. If all women gave birth in birth centres, cesarean rates would have reduced to 6.7% and 760 inpatient bed days would have been saved along with 5.6 hours of women's intensive care unit time per 1000 births. By shifting low-risk births from hospitals to home and birth centres, significant health resource savings could occur.

Read more: Callander, E.J. et al. (2021) The opportunity costs of birth in Australia: Hospital resource savings for a post-COVID-19 era. Birth. doi:10.1111/birt.12538

Relevant articles in the IJBPE:

‘Preparing women for home birth’ by Cathy Green. Volume 3, Issue 4, pp8-11
‘Urgently needed: Models for presenting choice’ by Denis Walsh. Volume 3, Issue 4, p3

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