Home births still safe, says expert

For further information, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. Link to article

This is an article from the St George Leader, which is the local newspaper of an area that has a publicly-funded home birth service.

HOME-BIRTH advocates have slammed media reports suggesting the practice is inherently dangerous. The reports were prompted following the death of a baby during a home water birth.

It was a freebirth, not a home birth. Freebirths are not attended by midwives; homebirths for the most part are. The presence of a midwife can be assumed to have a huge impact on the outcome.

The baby was the third child of Janet Fraser, the national convener of home birth support group, Joyous Birth ... there was no midwife present ... Advocate Sonia Gregson from Helensburgh said the overwhelming majority of home births occurred with the assistance of a midwife.

... Free births [non-midwife assisted] represent a tiny percentage of home births,'' she said ... Mrs Gregson said home-birth advocates were not looking to exclude the medical profession and authorities. `We want the medicos and hospitals involved. We want government support to make home birth as safe as possible,'' she said ....

Recent media reports suggested the problem was that people had lost faith in the public health system and had turned to home births as an alternative. The lack of continuity of care was identified by the Australian College of Midwives as one problem. Michael Chapman, director of women's and babies' health ... said St George Hospital had run a successful home birth service for two years that had resulted in 65 births ... the home-birth service has strict selection criteria, only allowing low-risk births, with the hospital as a backup in case of difficulties.

Homebirth women who employ the services of a private midwife often book into hospital as a back-up. They can access scans and tests via the hospital, or through their GP. Selection critria is the key to providind safe home birth services, and the other key is the hospital a) allowing private midwives to enter the hospital as the primary care provider; and b) hospital services that are as woman-friendly as private homebirth services.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting.