A Continuity of Care Experience (COCE)

Would you like some additional support during your pregnancy and also like to contribute to developing the next generation of midwives?

In Australia, midwifery students are required to follow women throughout their pregnancy, birth and after birth under the supervision of a midwife or doctor. This gives the student and the woman an opportunity to experience ‘continuity of care.’ Continuity of care is a term used to describe care that is provided by the same midwife or group of midwives across your pregnancy, birth and after the birth. Care provided by someone you get to know from the very beginning of your pregnancy and all the way through has been found to improve a woman’s overall experience of childbirth. 

What does a Continuity of Care Experience involve?

A midwifery student will attend some of your antenatal appointments and will contribute to your care during labour, providing additional support to you (and your partner). They will be involved in your birth experience, birthing your baby with the support of a midwife or doctor, and will visit you within the first six weeks after your baby is born. This is a professional learning relationship that will conclude following the final visit.

What are the benefits to you?

You will get to know the midwifery student, who will offer you support throughout your antenatal, birthing and postnatal experience. Sharing your thoughts and feelings over this time with a designated midwifery student can give you the opportunity to develop a one-to-one relationship that can be a positive and reassuring experience. Students are encouraged to provide care that is focussed on your individual needs, expectations and aspirations. Midwifery students are keen to share their knowledge and can be a great source of information.

What are the benefits for the student?

Students learn first-hand about women’s experiences during pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks with a new baby. This helps students to understand more of what midwifery is about and how they can better work with women. Students learn that midwifery care involves a partnership between the woman and the midwife. In this partnership the woman is considered the ‘expert’ for herself, her body and her baby. The COCE helps students to develop their practice in order to provide care that is holistic in terms of addressing a woman’s social, emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual and cultural needs. It prepares them to work in a variety of models of care once they are registered midwives. Importantly, they get to understand a variety of perspectives and ways of thinking that is very important when caring for women and their families.

What do I need to do to have my own midwifery student?

Finding a midwifery student is easy.

Sometimes a student will introduce themselves to you while you are attending an antenatal appointment, but no need to wait; if you would like to have a midwifery student provide continuity of care throughout your pregnancy and birth experience please fill in the Expression of Interest form.

Once you have submitted this form, the COCE Coordinator from the University of South Australia will allocate you a student. The midwifery student will contact you via phone or email and arrange to meet with you. A good way to do this is to organise to meet 30 minutes before your next antenatal appointment. You might like to come with some questions for the student and also share something about yourself and your ideas about what you are expecting for this pregnancy and birth. The student will also have an opportunity to introduce themselves.

Once you have met the student you will be asked to complete a form which indicates that you have agreed for this student to follow you through your pregnancy and birth experience.

Remember, you can change your mind about having a student at any time.

Your choices and maternity care will not be affected in any way. You are in charge and can decide what you want to share with the student. The students follow clear professional ethics and are required to maintain confidentiality and professional conduct at all times.