According to Justine Caines, Maternity Coalition National President, the proposed register will have dire consequences for homebirthing in Australia. “[The review] will spell the absolute death knell to private practice homebirth because midwives will have to provide evidence of their indemnity insurance to be registered… Yes they’ll be able to seek registration if they provide hospital care but they will not be registered for homebirth practices. So essentially from one day to the next homebirth will be putting the midwife at risk of being jailed for providing a service as an unregistered midwife.”
There is a massive difference between midwife-attended homebirths, which have been proven in other countries to have a similar level of safety to hospital births, and what is known as ‘freebirthing’, where no qualified medical attendant is present ... The Joyous Birth forums, originally established to give to support to women who have experienced traumatic births, have become increasingly radical recently, to the point where planned freebirthing is seen as the ultimate statement of protest over the medicalistion of birth ... Advocates of the hospital system claim that perhaps if hospitals were to become friendlier more women would birth there, problem solved. And maybe they would. But homebirthers say hey - we’re not refugees, we don’t want to be irresponsible, we’re happy to have midwives, we just want them covered by a medicare rebate.
The Sunday Age published an article that included an interview with Janet Fraser, a leading home birth advocate.
Ms Fraser ... revealed that at no time during the pregnancy had she consulted a health professional — and that she intended delivering the baby at home without an attending midwife.
"Free-birthing, plenty of women do it," she said.
The Australian College of Midwives, in an earlier interview, had criticised Ms Fraser for "recklessly" promoting free-birthing on the Joyous Birth website. Ms Fraser is the national convener of the Joyous Birth network.
... Ms Fraser reportedly delivered a baby girl in a water birth.
An ambulance was called when the infant reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and wasn't breathing.
... In the following days, there was a posting on the Joyous Birth website that announced the death, but this posting has since been removed ...
NSW police are investigating the death, and have said it was not clear whether the baby was stillborn or died after delivery. If a baby is stillborn, there is no autopsy. If a baby is alive at birth and dies soon after, it is considered a matter for the coroner.
Dr Pesce said the tragedies showed it was time to reform maternity services to attract back women who have become refugees from the hospital system ... "We are very concerned about a maternity care system that is so abhorrent that women choose to do this (give birth without a midwife),'' Professor Brodie said ... the maternity services system needed to be re-organised so women were assigned to a single midwife who they knew and trusted and who could provide continuity of care throughout their pregnancy ... A maternity services review commissioned by the Government called for a major overhaul of the system in February ... The review wants a greater role for midwives in the system.
THE death of four Sydney babies involved in home births in the past nine months has obstetricians asking what they have to do to improve women’s confidence in a hospital birth ... And it has also raised questions about what might happen next year when it could become illegal for midwives to attend such births ... Older mothers, those who have previously had caesarians, those undergoing a breech birth who have higher risks attached to their births were choosing sometimes to go it alone ... Home births in Australia could get even riskier from next July when a new national registration scheme for health professionals kicks in. From then health professionals will need indemnity insurance to gain the registration they need to practise ... Dr Pesce hoped such a system might make a hospital birth a more appealing option for those women he now calls refugees from our health system.
Home births are selfish, irresponsible, anti-reason and anti-progress ... We are gifted with advances in maternity practices that just a few generations ago would have dreamed of and in Australia we have obstetrics which are the envy of the modern medical world.
Throughout her pregnancy, during and after the birth, the Clunes mum was cared for by two privately practising midwives.
The services of these independent midwives are essential to most home births ... The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme being considered will require all practising health professionals to have professional indemnity insurance, effectively sidelining these midwives ... “A lot of people will still have babies at home but will not be attended by a midwife – at great risk to mother and baby,” Ms McAllister said.