5 myths about homebirth

1. Home birth is unsafe

Numerous studies have shown that a home birth is at least as safe as hospital birth for healthy, low-risk women, who are attended by midwives, with back-up plans in place.

2. Home birth is messy.

Many homebirths occur in water, and the birth pool is simply drained after the birth and everything stays very clean!  However, if you are birthing out of the water, your midwife will provide you with a list of homebirth supplies that you will need, and this will include such things as towels, sheets and plastic to protect floors, lounges, beds, carpet and so on. Garbage bags are always available and midwives always leave the house as they found it after the birth.

3. What if something goes wrong? "I / my baby would have died if we had had a home birth!!!"

How many times do we hear hear this?  Provided the homebirth is "low risk"and there is a midwife in attendance, the chance of things going very wrong is very very small.  The important issue is to ensure that good care has been provided in pregnancy, that there are back-up plans in place and that the woman and her baby are healthy at the start of labour.  In this group of women, homebirth is at least as safe as hospital birth, for both mother and baby.

If things take a different path in the labour, the midwife is often able to manage issues with simple measures. If more complicated measures are needed, the midwife will take the woman into hospital.  Most studies show that this happens in less than 15% of home births.

Typically, midwives bring a range of safety equipment and supplies to a birth. These include: - Oxygen - Suction equipment - Suture material and local anaesthetic for tears - Medication to stop any excess bleeding after the baby is born - Vitamin K for the baby - A doppler to monitor the baby's heart beat - Blood pressure equipment - Urinalysis sticks - Scales to weigh the baby - Resuscitation equipment for the baby - An oxygen mask for the mother - A catheter in case the mother is unable to pass urine - General equipment such as gloves, a mirror, needles and syringes, sterile water and normal saline, gauze, cotton wool, tape, cord clamps (unless the family prefer to use a cord tie) and so on. It's quite a big kit when it's all put together!

4. Only hippies have home births.

This couldn't be further from the truth! The general profile of a homebirthing family goes something like this:

- tertiary educated - in their 30s - already has one child or has been researching birth for many years - works in professional or managerial industries And many are from a health background.

5. It's expensive to have a homebirth.

Costs range from $3000 to $6000 which is very little when you consider what it covers, and the fact that it is spread over about 9 months of care.  After Medicare benefits have been claimed, the out-of-pocket cost is much lower than this. 

Care includes things such as:

  • antenatal (pregnancy) care
  • postnatal care for 6 weeks
  • labour and birth care at home or in hospital
  • your own midwife being on-call 24/7 from the time you book in until 6 weeks after your baby is born
  • access to a library of books and DVDs

Melissa Maimann is an eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney.  One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa offers a range of care options for women.  Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.