Home birth program that delivers

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

It took Bailey ... only 75 minutes to slip calmly into the world, amid the comforts of his own loungeroom, unaware he was quietly making history.

Bailey ... is one of a handful born at home under the guidance of midwives from St George Hospital, which runs the first publicly funded scheme of its kind in NSW ...

''After having a hospital birth for my first child, [Bailey's birth] was very, very different and it was amazing to be told that everything was my choice, my decision,'' his mother, Claire, 32, said yesterday. ''It was unbelievably calm and relaxed.''

Home birthing ... is now regarded by most obstetricians as controversial and dangerous.

Last year the Federal Government refused to include home birth under its midwifery indemnity scheme, which forced many midwives underground and threatened to increase the number of women ''freebirthing'', or delivering at home without any medical supervision.

Private home birth services have not been forced underground!

... home birthing advocates are hoping a review of the program ... could change the way birth is viewed ...

This would be wonderful! The program opens the home brith option to a more mainstream population who might not otherwise have considered home birth.

A study of the first 100 women booked to use the service found 63 per cent successfully delivered at home with no intervention or pain relief and minimal vaginal tearing.

Thirty women were sent to hospital before going into labour and seven were transferred during labour ...

''It shows that in a controlled environment where midwives are protected by the policies and protocols of a public hospital, home birthing is a safe option for women at low-risk,'' the co-director of Women's and Children's Health at St George Hospital, Michael Chapman, said yesterday. ''... I'd hate for this study to be used to support programs where there are not over-arching checks and balances in place, but this shows it can be a safe process.''

The program, launched in 2005, was helping to improve home birth's poor public image, but was still too restrictive for most women, and had abandoned some in the late stages of their pregnancies, the secretary of Homebirth Australia, Justine Caines, said. ''... this program excludes women without a strong evidence base,'' she said.

''Women have a right to informed consent and there is an ethical responsibility for a health service not to abandon [them], instead to offer the best health care possible consistent with a woman's choice.''

While the home brith service might be considered restrictive, this can also be considered to be providing a safe margin within which home birth services can commence and continue. Birth centres are also considered restrictive by some, but most women wo book into a birth centre will birth there safely.

I do not agree with the comments about the program "abandoning" women. To my knowledge, this has never happened. A public health service is obliged to provide a basic and safe level of care, and this is done. When a woman's clinical situation suggests that birth centre or delivery suite care would better meet her needs, this is provided. This is not abandoning women.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448