Doctors claim homebirth risks ignored

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WA doctors have attacked a new policy for State Government-funded homebirths, saying it sidesteps serious concerns about the increased risk of newborn deaths.

The draft document says women have a right to choose a home delivery at taxpayers' expense provided they are at low risk of complications and give their consent.

But women with risk factors such as a previous caesarean, obesity or a history of blood loss in childbirth should be excluded from publicly funded homebirths.

... Australian Medical Association WA said the policy fudged serious concerns raised by former members of the committee, who found the risk of death in babies born at home was almost four times higher and called for funded homebirth to be banned.

"Not only is the taxpayer entitled to think public monies are going to things that are evidence-based, if the evidence suggests it's more dangerous they should have even greater concerns." ...

The WA homebirth policy is a very considered and thorough document that supports low-risk homebirth for women who are attended by experienced midwives with a back-up hospital booking and obstetric consultation. Unfortunately the doctors quoted in the above article seem to have mixed their research. Studies clearly demonstrate that low-risk homebirth is at least as safe as hospital birth, and with fewer interventions for mothers in labour. It is high risk homebirth that is associated with excess perinatal mortality and this is not supported under the WA policy, or any other publicly-funded homebirth programs.

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