Mums angry over fed govt homebirth midwife row

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

... federal government legislation could drive the practice of homebirthing underground.

In the chilly pre-dawn moonshine of May 3, 2008, Felicity Gibbins went into labour ...

The night was still and the household calm as the family prepared for the arrival of their second child ...

... A homebirth is such a beautiful and intimate experience, Felicity says.

"The power of the mind is really an amazing thing. My attitude towards the pain was that each contraction was going to bring me one step closer to seeing my baby," she says.

"I was really excited about meeting my baby. I'd already fallen in love with it. It was my little friend who I would talk to all the time."

Using visualisation, meditation and yoga techniques, she worked through the pain, surrounded by her loved ones.

... "We had talked a lot about having the baby and read a few children's homebirth books, so she was aware of what was going on.

... Maya helped Paul fill the homebirth pool with warm water and baby Haile arrived at 8.22am weighing 3.9 kilograms.

"I pulled him out and into my arms," Felicity says.

"It was delightful ... my eyes were closed and I can still feel him now, his wrinkly skin over his head, his arms and legs stretched out searching for his mummy like a little slippery frog," she says.

Coaching her through this birth, as she had with Maya's homebirth, was [an] independent midwife ... with 25 years' experience.

But a federal government proposal could effectively criminalise midwife care for homebirths, jeopardising the health and safety of mothers.

Under the proposed new laws, debated in the House of Representatives this week, midwives must be insured in order to be registered.

But since 2001, private insurers stopped providing cover for homebirthing and the federal government has also refused to subsidise professional indemnity insurance for homebirth claims.

... independent midwives could be deregistered from July 2010. If they continue working they will risk fines of up to $30,000.

Felicity says if she does have a third child she could not imagine going through labour in the public setting of a hospital after two special experiences at home.

But, she said she would not have a homebirth without a midwife ... I felt really confident.

"In the hospital you can't have one-on-one care with a midwife ... there might be one midwife for three or four women.

"Being told where I should birth my next baby is offensive ... "

... "I could be at ... the hospital and catch people's babies but you don't necessarily remember their names; with homebirths you remember everything about it because you have that opportunity to make that connection," ...

"I do all the [antenatal] visits in the client's time and then give labour support and then post-natally you see them every day for a week or two ... so it's a huge amount of hours that goes into each client.

"You become very good friends. It's still professional but it's more than that."

... if the government changes are adopted, the health of women and their babies could be at risk.

"There's certain potential for danger," ... "Women could go it alone."

... it's a myth that it's mostly hippies who choose to have homebirths.

"I have had clients who are doctors, lawyers, people in financial services, IT - all sorts of career paths," she says.

"It's become a mainstream option."

... "Women have the opportunity if they have had birth trauma to choose to have a caesarean, which comes at a higher cost to (taxpayers) with higher risk factors, yet women who are low risk can't choose to homebirth which is deemed to be safe by world-wide reports."

... up to 2,000 women have home labours each year ...

Homebirth mothers and midwives will protest at Parliament House in Canberra on September 7 at 11.30am

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448