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March 02, 2010

Home birth

I get mixed reactions when I tell people I am having my baby at home. People have experienced homebirth are really thrilled for me, and people who are ignorant or misinformed can be quite dismissive. I was a planned homebirth and many of my friends had their babies at home too. For me it just felt like the normal thing to do.

Of course the safety of my baby is my highest priority, so I did research home births before going ahead. Many studies the world over prove that home birth is as safe as hospital births for low risk women who birth full term babies with experienced and trained midwives within a half hour drive of a back up hospital. My pregnancy is low risk, my baby is now full term, my midwife has 5 years education and 15 years experience and one of the best maternity hospitals in Asutralia is about a ten minute drive away. So the answer is simple.

Unfortunately the personal becomes political and what felt like a very natural decision to me happens to have come at a turbulent time for home birth in Australia. New legislation will make it illegal for an independant home birth midwife to practise after June this year. The new laws state that midwives must practise under hospital based obstetricians in order to be covered by their insurance, but obstetricians do not support home birth so the midwives can no longer practise. No insurance is available directly to these midwives. If you ask me it's all about control and money and fear of litigation, but let's not get into that. The fact is home birth is safe under the right conditions, and the new legislation is expanding on the culture of fear that already surrounds birth.

Fortunately I am birthing on a government home birth program which will not be affected by the new legislation, but this is not available in all states Australia.

If you read any articles or studies about home birth please use your best media analysis skills. Studies that prove home birth is dangerous usually include in their statistics one or more of the following:
  • unplanned home births
  • preterm babies born at home
  • birth of twins or more
  • unassisted births at home (also known as free birth)
  • breech babies
  • babies known to have died in utero, but the mother, in order to grieve and let go, would like to labour and birth at home anyway
One study I read even included miscarriage amongst it's home birth statistics!

Today we can have the best of both worlds, a peaceful and private birth at home, with the best technology on offer in nearby hospitals for the 8% of women who need intervention. I want to share this with you because I strongly believe in every womans right to birth in a place where she is safe, comfortable and supported. For many women that is in a hospital. For me it is at home.


Anna said...

You stick to your guns! It's more than ridiculous the way 'they' have medicalised pregnancy and childbirth over the last 100 years. It is all about control and money and nothing to do with people's lives. And disgraceful the disrespect shown to mid-wives.

Julia said...

Agreed! Isn't it ridiculous and tragic that we even need to have this conversation?!

Whatsup said...

Havent checked your blog in a while. Good luck. This is something that I didnt have guts to do. I am very happy to know that someone I know is able to do this.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has had 2 home births in London, where it is vigorously supported. It is delightful to curl up in your own bed with the new life and family around. Best thing ever.

Julia said...

Sounds exactly the way it's meant to be! Beautiful.