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The Forum > Article Comments > Risk and homebirth: what’s at stake? > Comments

Risk and homebirth: what’s at stake? : Comments

By Karen Lane and Kerreen Reiger, published 6/5/2009

Public debate on the relative merits of home versus hospital birth has been raging with more heat than light.

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It's good to see the 'risk' issue in homebirth brought to a social forum. I would like to suggest that the real question is not about homebirth, but about a midwife's right to autonomous professional midwifery practice (ie without medical supervision or medically approved protocols). Within that practice is the woman's choice to ask her midwife to attend birth at her home, or in hospital.

I have followed the federal government's Maternity Services Review closely, and I believe the Report itself is at the centre of the misinformation and sensationalism that has been taken up so eagerly by the media.

The Report failed to recommend insurance for midwives, which probably means that independent midwifery will cease to exist after 1 July 2010. The Report recommends passing the buck to a process that "could support an expanded role for appropriately qualified and skilled midwives, within collaborative team-based models" - ignoring the fact that appropriately qualified and skilled midwives simply want to do midwifery. Most of us don't need to expand our roles to induction of labour, or to being some sort of mini-doctors.

The Report also made pronouncements that could remove what little access women currently have to homebirth:
"In recognising that, at the current time in Australia, homebirthing is a sensitive and controversial issue, the Review Team has formed the view that the relationship between maternity health care professionals is not such as to support homebirth as a mainstream Commonwealth-funded option (at least in the short term)."

The potential losers in this sad saga are not only midwives, and the midwifery profession, but also the women who hope to have a known midwife who will accompany them through their most basic and primal journeys, in giving birth to their children.

Further discussion and links to articles can be accessed at
Posted by villagemidwife, Friday, 8 May 2009 8:46:16 AM
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