In this short video, mums and dads share their experience of pregnancy and birth care in a homebirth setting.
Homebirth is a safe option for women who are healthy, have a low-risk pregnancy and live not too far a drive from a hospital.
Homebirth is usually with a private midwife. All private midwives must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia to practise and to be insured. Insurance covers pregnancy and postnatal care but not birth.
In some Australian states, publicly funded homebirth programs are offered in the public hospital system.
In homebirth, you often have more say over decisions about yourself and your body, care and birth environment. Women who choose homebirth often want very little medical intervention and medical pain relief.
If you’ve been accepted into homebirth by a private midwife or a public homebirthing program, your pregnancy appointments are likely to be with a midwife in your home, hospital or in the community.
Your midwife will talk with you in detail about pregnancy, birth and parenting, and options for birth classes if you want to do them. As part of your homebirth plan, your midwife will discuss booking you into a back-up hospital.
You usually see one midwife throughout your pregnancy, but two midwives should be present at your home during birth.
Once labour is progressing, your midwife and a second midwife will come to your home and care for you during labour and birth.
After the birth, the two midwives will check that you and your baby are both well and might stay with you for around 3-4 hours. They will check on you and your baby every day for a few days, depending on how you and your baby are going. Some midwives are available for phone advice (or a visit) up until you have your six-week GP check.
If the midwives have concerns about your health or your baby’s health at any stage during pregnancy, labour, birth or after birth, your birth setting might change. The midwives might call an ambulance to take you to your back-up hospital or nearest public hospital.
A homebirth with a private midwife can cost from $3500-$6000. This usually includes your pregnancy care, being with you during labour and birth, and visits after the birth for 2-6 weeks.
Before you employ a midwife, ask her exactly what her fee includes and what Medicare or private health fund rebates you can get. You can get rebates for pregnancy and postnatal care but not care during birth.
A few hospitals and birth centres now offer Medicare-funded homebirths as an option for some women. In this case, here are some of the costs you can expect:
If you’d like to go through a public homebirth program, you will need a GP referral.
You might not need a GP referral to a private midwife. It depends on whether your midwife has a collaborative arrangement with a hospital or obstetrician.
If you think you might be pregnant, see your GP or contact a private midwife as soon as possible to start your pregnancy care. The GP, private midwife or hospital midwife will let you know whether a homebirth would be advisable for you.
To find a private midwife, you can:
If you’re interested in a homebirth, it’s a good idea to think about:
Knowing your options and talking about them with your midwife or doctor can help you feel more prepared and happier about your pregnancy and birth experience in the long run.