What if, when labour begins, rather than rushing to hospital, you instead settled in at home with your trusted support team, including your midwife, by your side? Choosing to birth at home is once again a viable choice for Canberra women, thanks to a successful homebirth trial completed in 2019.
Is it safe?
The research is unequivocal. A recent University of Technology Sydney (UTS) study compared the results of five years of homebirth outcomes with Australian hospital birth statistics and found homebirth had a reduced risk of stillbirth and neonatal death, as well as an increased chance of having a ‘normal’ vaginal birth. A much larger study from the Netherlands of 500,000 confirmed that homebirth is safe for low-risk women.
There are many reasons people choose to birth at home, including:
- Increased chance of going into labour spontaneously
- No need to travel during labour
- Allowance for the natural progression of labour with less risk of induction
- Avoidance of unnecessary procedures such as routine monitoring
- More likely to have a natural birth and lower risk of c-section
With one in three babies born by c-section in Australia, many women feel that birthing has become overly medicalised. Each intervention in the birthing process increases the chance that a further intervention will be required.
What if something goes wrong?
Specially trained homebirth midwives are on hand throughout labour and have the necessary equipment and medications to address routine complications. A homebirth midwife doesn’t just turn up and hope for the best.
A matter of choice
Ultimately, what’s most important is that women and families have access to the birthing environment where they feel most comfortable, whether that means being in hospital with an obstetrician, at home with a midwife or in a birth centre with mixed midwife and obstetric care.
Women labour best and have the best birth outcomes when they feel safe and supported. A woman who is empowered by her birth experience is more likely to bond positively with her newborn child, establish successful breastfeeding and have better mental health outcomes. Raising children is a marathon not a sprint. What happens at the starting line can really shape the outcome for the whole of the journey.
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