Govt urged to tighten homebirth laws

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The federal government has been urged to push on with its plans to tighten homebirth laws, after a new study found the practice to be more risky than conventional hospital deliveries.

A comparison of South Australian births between 1991 and 2006 found ... babies were seven times more likely to die from complications during a homebirth than a planned hospital delivery.

They were also 27 times more likely to suffer asphyxiation during labour ...

The Australian Medical Association, which is opposed to homebirthing, says the study throws more weight behind the government's planned overhaul of maternity care.

... The overhaul has outraged homebirth groups, which say the practice will be forced underground, a concern that was also highlighted in a recent Senate inquiry.

... the proposed laws won't stop women from wanting to have a homebirth.

"... they will put women in quite a dramatically unsafe situation because they won't be able to find a registered midwife to attend to them."

She says doctors are also unlikely to support the practice because of their own insurance concerns.

Homebirth Australia secretary Justine Caines, who has had seven successful homebirths, agrees and says the planned changes are a major erosion of women's rights.

"Birth is very personal and a decision each woman should have the right to make" ...

"So the AMA's responsibility should be to make the practice of homebirth as safe as possible whether they like it or not."

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448