Continuity of Clinician Type and Intrapartum Experiences During the Perinatal Period in California

Author Department


Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Introduction: Continuity of care with an individual clinician is associated with increased satisfaction and better outcomes. Continuity of clinician type (ie, obstetrician-gynecologist or midwife) may also impact care experiences; however, it is unknown how common it is to experience discontinuity of clinician type and what its implications are for the birth experience. We aimed to identify characteristics associated with having a different clinician type for prenatal care than for birth and to compare intrapartum experiences by continuity of clinician type.

Methods: For this cross-sectional study, data were from the 2017 Listening to Mothers in California survey. The analytic sample was limited to individuals with vaginal births who had midwifery or obstetrician-gynecologist prenatal care (N = 1384). Bivariate and multivariate analysis examined characteristics of individuals by continuity of clinician type. We then examined associations of clinician type continuity with intrapartum care experiences.

Results: Overall, 74.4% of individuals had the same type of clinician for prenatal care and birth. Of individuals with midwifery prenatal care, 45.1% had a different birth clinician type, whereas 23.5% of individuals who had obstetrician-gynecologist prenatal care had a different birth clinician type. Continuity of clinician type was positively associated with having had a choice of perinatal care clinician. There were no statistically significant associations between clinician type continuity and intrapartum care experiences.

Discussion: Findings suggest individuals with midwifery prenatal care frequently have a different type of clinician attend their birth, even among those with vaginal births. Further research should examine the impact of multiple dimensions of continuity of care on perinatal care quality.

Keywords: childbirth; continuity of care; continuity of clinician type; intrapartum experiences; perinatal care.