Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When push comes to shove, home births don't deserve to be demonised

A recent study in Canada examined 2889 home births attended by registered midwives in British Columbia and 4752 planned hospital births attended by the same group of midwives, compared with 5331 births in hospitals attended by doctors. The study concluded that ''women planning birth at home experienced reduced risk for all obstetric interventions measured and similar or reduced risk for adverse maternal outcomes''.
In the Netherlands, about 30 per cent of women give birth at home, providing the ideal opportunity for a long overdue large-scale study into its safety. Researchers studied more than 500,000 births over seven years and found births for low-risk pregnancies were as safe at home as in hospital.
It's time to stop demonising home birth and start listening to women's desires to birth naturally, whether that be in hospitals, birth centres or their own homes.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/when-push-comes-to-shove-home-births-dont-deserve-to-be-demonised-20111213-1ot0e.html

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Home births a labour of love for some


WHEN Helen Lane fell pregnant with her fifth child in January last year, she began to dread the prospect of once again giving birth in a hospital.

After four "awful" experiences giving birth - all in Scottish hospitals - the now Adelaide-based mother feared another unpleasant experience.

Then she came across midwife Wendy Thornton, who introduced her to the home birthing concept.
After initial doubts, Ms Lane had Ms Thornton deliver her baby Jemimah at her Woodside home in September last year.

She couldn't have been happier with the result.

"The home birth was wonderful," Ms Lane said.

"Wendy was a very experienced midwife - she's been doing it for over 20 years and she's worked in hospitals.

"I trusted her implicitly and I knew that if I had any cause to go to hospital, she'd get me there in time and she wouldn't hedge any bets."
This compared with a stillbirth rate of 7.4 per 1000 births across all births in Australia that year.

Australian College of Midwives spokeswoman Hannah Dahlen said there was a huge amount of research that showed home births were safe when carried out under the right circumstances.

"For low-risk women who are attended by competent midwives who are well connected into the system, we have the same outcomes for babies and much better outcomes for mothers," she said.

While the vast majority of women choose to give birth in hospital, there are those who are loath to do so.
Ms Dahlen said these were often women with previous bad experiences in hospitals, or those who had endured some form of sexual abuse.

For Ms Lane, each of her four hospital births were bad experiences.

"It was horrific, absolutely horrific," she said.

"It was just really impersonal and intrusive. It was very physical, whereas Wendy doesn't examine people unless they absolutely need it. But at the hospital I just felt like a cow."

Ms Dahlen said it was this fear or dislike of hospitals that drove women with high-risk pregnancies - such as twins or a baby in breech - to have home births despite the risks. She said this was compounded by a health system that did not support home births.

"We're one of the few countries that has no funding for home births, so women have to pay out of their pockets," she said.

"We have no insurance for private midwives attending births at homes.

"We've got a system where midwives also have no access to go into a hospital with their mother and continue to provide care.

"This is a dangerous system, because it is a disincentive for women to go into hospital when they need to and for midwives to encourage them when they need to do that."

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Elizabeth Dabars said a problem for independent midwives was they were not covered by insurance during home births.

While all other health professionals must show proof of liability insurance, midwives who attend home births have been temporarily excluded from the indemnity until September next year.

Ms Dabars said this was not a viable long-term solution and the State Government needed to resolve the insurance issue and/or provide additional services for women aside from hospitals.

The risk of not resolving the problem was women taking greater risks with home births, including using unregistered practitioners and opting for home births even when their pregnancy was considered high risk.
The president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Rupert Sherwood, said the college did not support home birthing because it was associated with an unacceptably high rate of adverse outcomes.

He said the college was instead in favour of making hospitals "more friendly and a nicer environment for mothers and their babies".

However, he said the college was also "pro choice".

"If people do choose to have babies at home, then they should be fully informed that in our opinion the risks are increased over that of a hospital-based or health centre-based birth," he said.

"The problem with obstetrics is something serious can happen."

Monday, October 24, 2011

A home birth is the "most empowering experience a woman can have"


A home birth is the "most empowering experience a woman can have", says mother Bianca Entwistle ahead of home-birthing week, due, in an ironic twist, to start on Labour Day.

Mrs Entwistle gave birth to her first child almost 20 years ago in hospital, and she said the experience put her off having children again for years.

"The amount of interventions they did from the start, they broke my waters first, and then from there it was a snowball effect – they had to keep making more and more interventions and ultimately my labour was such an intense pain, far more than it needed to be, and the decisions were taken out of my hands."

Mrs Entwistle said so many interventions were performed that she had to have an episiotomy – a surgical incision on the perineum and the posterior vaginal wall during the second stage of labour.

She said it wasn't until 13 months ago, when she gave birth to baby Soul, that she realised what kind of experience giving birth "could be".

"It was calm, you're able to make the decisions yourself, and you go with the flow but you are able to focus on the birth of your son, rather than not really knowing what is going on."

The awareness week will run from October 24 to 30.

Throughout the Celebrate Home Birth Week, the Manawatu Home Birth Association will be holding a number of events and information evenings.

Four delegates from Manawatu will also be going to a national conference on pregnancy, home birthing and parenting, to be attended by 150 delegates nationwide. It will have eight speakers, including one from Australia.

For more information on all the events being held in the region, visit homebirthmanawatu.wordpress.com or visit the Manawatu Home Birth Association Facebook page.

- Manawatu Standard

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home Birth – It’s your choice!


"Home Birth – It’s your choice!"

Home Birth Awareness Week commences from Monday October 24, 2011 – appropriately, this is also observed as Labour Day. For Home Birth Aotearoa, the national organisation of New Zealand’s home birth groups, the week will kick off with the gifting of “It’s Your Choice!” care packages to twenty-five locations around the country. The care packages will contain meaningful messages, gifts and resources for these volunteer-led groups that are being recognised by Home Birth Aotearoa as integral to New Zealand’s essentially grassroots home birth movement: “Every person who supports home birth within their community is creating positive change to our birth culture here in New Zealand” says Home Birth Aotearoa spokesperson Jeannette Lazet.

Home Birth Aotearoa believes that New Zealand is leading the globe in terms of maternity choices and Ms Lazet says that: “The home birth scene is thriving here - we are supporting levels of enthusiasm and development not seen since the 90s”. Regional home birth groups are diverse in structure and consist of midwives, families and whanau who volunteer at a community and national levelto encourage and support home birth choices. The theme launched this Home Birth Awareness week is: Supporting a strong and flourishing network of active home birth groups throughout Aotearoa. The intention is simple; to facilitate networking within New Zealand communities and encourage a culture of proactive, positive support for home birth and for the home birth groups of Aotearoa.

The catchphrase “Home birth - It’s your choice” is a message that Home Birth Aotearoa actively promotes to all well women in New Zealand. In giving thought to how this phrase applies at a community and national level, Home Birth Aotearoa recognised the ripple effects of an empowered birth choice: “It goes beyond the experience itself. The basic act of sharing home birth experiences, knowledge and choices empowers people at an individual, community, national and international level. This is the simple gravity of birth and of human experience” says Ms Lazet.

To date this year, Home Birth Aotearoa’s key initiatives have had a distinct focus on unity and connection. This included the honouring and support of student midwives on International Day of the Midwife in May. And while midwives play a key role in New Zealand’s maternity care system, according to Home Birth Aotearoa, we each hold a vital role in terms of the birth culture of New Zealand: “Midwives are valuable, knowledgeable people, yet we cannot expect them to fulfil absolutely every need of a pregnant or birthing woman. As community and as whanau, we too should hold a sense of duty to our birthing women and to the newest members of our nation” says Ms Lazet. It would seem then, that as that community, and as whanau, indeed it’s our choice how we care for one another.

Home Birth Awareness Week 2011:
• Commences from Monday Oct 24 to Sunday Oct 30
• Includes the Home Birth Aotearoa biannual hui on Friday Oct 28
• Concludes with the biennial home birth national conference themed Today’s choices: Tomorrow’s parents
Check out www.homebirth.org.nz for more information and to contact your local home birth support group. Also go to http://todayschoices.org/ for information on the home birth national conference.

Friday, August 26, 2011


As a place-holder while the current website gets a much-needed revamp, we're going to use a blog! Stay tuned for updates including:
  • New Facebook presence
  • Photos, stories and journies
  • Gatherings, coffee mornings and birth story circles
  • Updated information on the current status of homebirth in South Australia
  • Research, information and links!