Rethinking childbirth education could save $97m in health budget

Auburn Hospital and The University of Notre Dame Australia Research Fellow Dr Kate Levett talks about her research with pregnant mums Sarah Wall and Nour Danawi.

Research conducted by an international cohort including the University of Notre Dame Australia, NICM, Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Capital Markets CRC; and the University of Central Lancashire UK, shows antenatal education reduces the rates of medical procedures during childbirth, and could save the healthcare system up to $97 million per year.

The Australian-first research found that an effective childbirth education program – which significantly reduced the incidence of caesarean births – could save an average of $808 per woman.

The University of Notre Dame Research Fellow affiliated with Auburn Hospital, Dr Kate Levett says this applied to the 120,000 first time mothers who give birth annually in Australia, the potential saving for hospitals, government and private health insurers is significant.

“Most of the medical savings in the model come from the reduction in rate of uncomplicated caesarean section in the women allocated to a 2-day antenatal programme,” Dr Levett said.

“Antenatal education programmes can reduce the stress of childbirth and save valuable hospital resources.

“We have a strong international collaborative team with NICM, Health Research Institute, the School of Nursing and Midwifery, the Translational Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, The University of Central Lancashire UK, and Health economist Associate Professor Federico Girosi at Capital Markets CRC Australia and Western Sydney University.”

Western Sydney University School of Medicine’s A/Professor Federico Girosi designed the method of analysis, using hospital codes as a way to calculate the cost saving. This system of hospital codes is used in many international settings, such as the UK, so it is relevant in different countries.

“It also allows health departments around the world to make informed choices about additional procedures,” Associate Professor Girosi said.

With further research required, the researchers say the positive saving could lead to a reduction in birth-related healthcare costs at approximately nine per cent.

The cost analysis study was recently published in the Sydney Morning Herald.  To view this story, visit:

Auburn Hospital and The University of Notre Dame Research Fellow Dr Kate Levett.