Who Should Consider Having a Homebirth?
Who should consider having a homebirth?
Homebirth is not for everyone. If you meet the eligibility criteria and think that you will feel comfortable labouring and giving birth at home, then you could consider a homebirth.
Are there any advantages of having a homebirth?
Women have reported they feel more comfortable labouring and giving birth in their own environment. They also say that they feel more in control of the situation.
Does the level of care provided for homebirths differ to what’s provided at the hospital?
The care provided to women in their homes will be the same as the care provided by midwives in the Birth Centre.
When should I apply?
You should let the midwife know you are interested in homebirth when you meet with them at approximately 10 weeks of pregnancy.
What is the process once I’ve booked for a homebirth?
Confirmation of a place in the homebirth service will not be finalised until a midwife has met with you and assessed your suitability for a place in the service. Suitability for the service is based on factors such as the eligibility criteria, geographical location, and your position on the booking list.
Who attends homebirths?
Two midwives will attend each homebirth including one primary midwife and one support midwife.
As with hospital births, the primary midwife calls another midwife when a birth is imminent. This additional midwife is known as the support midwife.
Are water births available under the service?
Women are encouraged to labour in water such as a bath, birth pool or shower. Water births are now supported within the Homebirth Service and can be discussed with your homebirth midwife. The Homebirth Program does not supply birth pools.
What is the role of my midwife when I am in labour?
Your midwife will closely monitor you and your baby by listening to your baby’s heartbeat and regularly checking your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and progress of labour. Your midwife will offer professional and emotional support to guide you through your labour and openly discuss any changes needed to your birth plan in order to maintain your safety and that of your baby.
What equipment will be required for the birth?
When you have reached 36 weeks gestation, your midwife will provide you with a homebirth kit which will contain the equipment routinely used for birth. We’ll also arrange delivery of two oxygen cylinders and a medication pack from the Hospital Pharmacy, to store in your refrigerator.
What pain relief can I have during a homebirth?
Most women choose to use water therapy, or water immersion in a bath or other natural remedies including massage, heat packs, and movement and positioning. You may also choose to take paracetamol (panadol) to ease the discomfort. Pharmacological pain relief such as epidurals and nitrous oxide gas is not available for homebirths.
What happens if I need to be transferred to hospital during my homebirth? And what is the transfer process?
Your midwife will advise you if there is a need for transfer to hospital. The reason for transfer could relate to you or your baby. This may be in your car or the midwife may decide to call an ambulance.
Will my midwife stay with me if I am transferred to hospital?
Yes, you will have the same primary midwife throughout the duration of your birth, whether that is a homebirth or you are transferred to hospital.
What happens if I change my mind about homebirth? Can I go to hospital at any point during my labour?
If, during labour, you decide that you would prefer a hospital birth rather than a homebirth, you can raise your concerns at any point with your midwife and they will discuss the option to transfer to the hospital with you. Your primary midwife will continue to care for you in the hospital.
Can my family be with me during my homebirth?
Yes, you will discuss with your midwife who you would like to support you during labour, birth and after your baby is born.
What happens after the birth?
Your midwife will stay with you until you and your baby are safe, comfortable and feeding well. Your primary midwife will continue to be available by phone and will visit regularly at home.
Will my baby be checked by a doctor?
No, as in the hospital, the midwife will undertake the first assessment of your baby following the birth. If the midwife has any concerns, they will speak with a neonatologist (a medical professional who specialises in caring for newborn babies) and/or transfer into hospital if required. However, if you wish to have your baby checked by a doctor, you can visit your general practitioner at a later date. A Maternal and Child Health nurse will also visit you at home in the first month after you’ve given birth.
How will complications be dealt with during the birthing process?
It is important to note that complications can arise in any pregnancy. Ongoing assessments throughout your pregnancy and birth will occur, to monitor you and your baby. The midwife may determine that you need to be transferred to the hospital if complications are identified.
We have detailed procedures about the transfer process should you, or your baby, need to be transferred to the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. In the event of an emergency, the ACT Ambulance Service will attend as quickly as possible to assist your midwife with this transfer.
How will infection control be managed in a homebirth?
Your midwife will ensure that infection control principles are adhered to in your home. All clinical waste from the birth will be removed from your home by the midwives present at the birth.
What evidence is there that homebirth is safe?
Current published evidence demonstrates that planned homebirth, with a qualified midwife, is a safe alternative for women deemed to be at low risk of childbirth complications.
Evidence also tells us that women at low risk of birthing complications have the same outcomes, whether they have their baby in a hospital or in their home with a qualified midwife.
Continuous assessment and monitoring during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period will assist in managing and reducing any risks that may arise.
What are the risks associated with having a homebirth?
It is important to note that there are risks associated with every birth, including homebirth.
There are extreme circumstances where labouring and birthing at home increase the risk of poor outcomes to mother and baby. While they occur infrequently, the most common emergencies are excessive bleeding from the mother or failure of the baby to breathe after it is born. Our midwives are experienced in managing both of these situations.
In the event of an emergency, your homebirth midwife will make urgent contact with the Ambulance Service to transfer you and your baby to the hospital.