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Pregnancy and birth complications and homebirthBookmark this page

Pregnancy complications

Pregnancy complications are health problems that happen during pregnancy. These can be problems with you, your baby or both.

Going to your pregnancy appointments at the right times, not missing appointments, and telling your midwife or doctor about any symptoms – for example, vaginal bleeding, swelling or severe headaches – will help them pick up problems early and work out what needs to happen.

Tell your midwife about anything that might affect your care or health – for example, depression.

If any health problems come up, your GP or homebirth midwife might send you to a hospital obstetrician. The obstetrician might:

  • check your health and your baby’s health
  • send you for screening or diagnostic tests, extra scans or counselling
  • get other specialist opinions.

If your GP, midwife or obstetrician is worried about your health or your baby’s health, you might be advised not to go ahead with a homebirth. As part of your homebirth plan, your midwife or GP will discuss booking you into a back-up hospital and why you might need this option.

You might like to read more about health problems in pregnancy.

Birth complications

If you’re 37 weeks pregnant or more and everything’s OK, your homebirth midwife will care for you during labour and assess your progress. Midwives are educated to deal with most problems in a low-risk pregnancy during a homebirth.

But if you or your baby need extra medical care or labour is progressing too slowly, the midwife will talk with you about calling an ambulance to take you to your back-up hospital or nearest public hospital.

Once you get there, an obstetrician will manage any problems and do any procedures you need. Unless your homebirth midwife has a special agreement with the hospital, she won’t be able to keep caring for you in the hospital but will stay on to support you. The hospital midwives will provide the clinical care for you instead.

If you go into labour before 37 weeks or your baby needs high-level medical care, you’ll go to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or special care unit (SCU).

Sometimes you’ll be well enough to go home, but your baby will need to stay in hospital.

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