A wide-ranging inquiry into ACT's public maternity services has called for a focus on midwife-led care and a mandated staffing level of midwives and nurses.
The parliamentary inquiry's final report said safety data about Canberra's maternity wards should regularly be released, and there should be a focus on continuity of care and women's birthing choices .
The inquiry was launched after midwives and staff at Canberra Hospital penned an anonymous letter to the government saying patients' lives were being put at risk due to understaffing and poor management. It prompted women to come forward and share their experiences of giving birth at the hospital.
The inquiry's public hearings were told harrowing birth stories from women, as well as suggestions of chronic under staffing and overcrowding at Canberra Hospital.
The committee - made up of one Labor, one Greens and one Liberal MLA - made 74 recommendations in its report. It said mandated minimum midwife to patient ratios to safely manage workloads should be implemented across all of ACT's publicly funded maternity services.
The committee also called on the government to ensure adequate funding for services to meet the needs of not only women, but also their babies.
It wants the government to widen the popular birthing centre model which offers continuity of care with a midwife for low risk pregnancies. It also called for an expansion of home birthing options for Canberra mothers, and the establishment of a breast milk bank.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said she would carefully consider the report.
"I acknowledge and thank all of the women and families who came forward to make submissions and to share their personal experiences as part of this inquiry," she said.
"By sharing their experience and expertise, they are helping to improve health services for women and families across Canberra and our surrounding region.
"Every day our hospitals and clinical staff strive to provide the best possible birthing services and to do this in a compassionate and supportive way.
"Unfortunately, we have heard through this inquiry that this is not everyone's experience and acknowledge there is further work to do to ensure consistent access to care and support."
Opposition Health Spokeswoman Vicki Dunne, who is also on the committee, said Canberra could have a world-class maternity service if the recommendations were implemented.
"Women and babies need to be at the centre of the system," she said.
Canberra lawyer Kate Waterford, who specialises in medical negligence claims, said women wanted to feel heard. She said many of the claims from Canberra mothers she dealt with related to emergency birth situations, including injuries from the use of forceps, or being slow to identify complications.
She said she also saw women who suffered significant psychological trauma after their birthing experiences.
Ms Waterford said the recommendations around continuity of care for women were important. "It's absolutely essential that everything be women and baby focused, that's what it's all about," she said.