Maternity models of care

What is a ‘model of care’?

A maternity model of care describes how a group of women are cared for during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, that is, how maternity care is provided. This includes identifying: the women a model is designed for; the maternity carers involved and the role they play; and aspects of how and where care is provided. Based on these characteristics, each model of care can be grouped into one of 11 major model categories.

Why do we need to classify them? 

Around 300,000 babies are born in Australia each year and while women have some choice around the health providers and care they receive during the maternity period this may depend on where they live and their individual circumstances. Most maternity models of care in Australia include care in either a public or private hospital setting. A 2009 report on improving maternity services in Australia recommended changes to improve choices for women and the range of models of care available to them, for example by supporting an expanded role for midwives, the expansion of collaborative models of care and improving access for rural and Indigenous women (DoHA 2009). To monitor the models of care available to and utilised by women requires the collection of this information in a standardised way.

What is the Maternity Care Classification System?

The Maternity Care Classification System (MaCCS) is a standardised nomenclature for maternity models of care. It can be used to identify, describe, and report on the range of maternity models of care available to women in Australia. Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, the MaCCS was developed by the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit at the University of New South Wales and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), as part of the National Maternity Data Development Project (AIHW 2014a, 2016a, 2018). This involved consultation with a range of stakeholders across the country (AIHW 2014b, 2016b).

The MaCCS underpins the AIHW’s maternity models of care data collection and the Model of Care National Best Practice Data Set (MoC NBPDS). The MoC NBPDS contains information about the models of care available at maternity services across Australia. Collecting information on models of care has also facilitated the inclusion of model of care data elements into the National Perinatal Data Collection (NPDC) with two model of care data elements added to the specifications for this collection in July 2020.

The AIHW would like to thank and acknowledge the maternity services and jurisdictions that contribute to the maternity models of care data collection. While this release only reports on the characteristics of the models themselves, future reporting will be able to link data from the NPDC and the MoC NBPDS. This will enable analyses on the number and characteristics of women using these models of care, and mapping and analyses at smaller geographic levels.