Labour and birth indicators

The National Core Maternity Indicators (NCMIs) associated with labour and birth present information on measures of clinical activity and outcomes between 2004 and 2017.

Data for each indicator are presented by jurisdiction of birth, and at the national level by hospital annual number of births, hospital sector, and mother’s Indigenous status. Some indicators are presented by remoteness of residence, disadvantage quintile and other data groupings where relevant.

During labour and birth:

  • The proportion of first-time mothers for whom labour was induced increased from 31.1% in 2004 to 43.1% in 2017.
  • From 2004 to 2017, the rate of non-instrumental vaginal births decreased while instrumental vaginal births increased.
  • In 2017, about one-fifth of women (22.0%) received an episiotomy in an unassisted birth, an increase from 16.2% in 2004. In 2017, three-quarters of women (75.2%) received an episiotomy in an assisted birth, an increase from 60.7% in 2004.
  • The rate of caesarean sections in first-time mothers increased from 25.3% in 2004 to 29.3% in 2017.
  • In 2017, around 1 in 8 women (12.1%) had their second birth vaginally after having their first birth by caesarean section, a rate which has remained stable since 2007.
Labour and birth indicators by proportion for baseline year and 2017
Measure Baseline
year
Baseline
per cent (%)
Current
year
2017 (%)

Selected Women

PI05

Induction of labour for selected women giving birth for the first time

2004

31.1

43.1

PI06

Caesarean section for selected women giving birth for the first time

2004

25.3

29.3

PI07

Non-instrumental vaginal birth for selected women giving birth for the first time

2004

51.9

44.6

PI08

Instrumental vaginal birth for selected women giving birth for the first time

2004

22.8

26.1

All Women

PI03

Episiotomy for women having their first baby and giving birth vaginally
a. without instruments to assist the birth
b. assisted with instruments


2004
2004


16.2
60.7


22.0
75.2

PI09

General anaesthetic for women giving birth by caesarean section

2007

8.2

6.1

PI15

Women having their second birth vaginally whose first birth was by caesarean section

2007

13.1

12.1

Selected women

Selected women include those aged between 20 and 34 years, whose baby’s gestational age at birth was between 37 and 41 completed weeks, with a singleton baby in the vertex presentation.

Comparison of ‘selected’ groups of women allows for an indication of standard practice. Selected women, for this indicator, refers to a cohort of mothers who are expected to have reduced labour complications and better birth outcomes. The proportion of selected women is approximately one-third of all women who gave birth in 2017.