Homebirth offers care that gives healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies the chance to have a positive, ongoing relationship with a midwife.
Mums are often happier with their birth experience when they have the same person, or group of people, looking after them through pregnancy, labour and birth. They also have higher breastfeeding success and fewer birth interventions.
Homebirth is usually with a private midwife, but some Australian states and territories offer some publicly funded homebirth programs within the public hospital system.
Care from your midwife
If you’ve been accepted into homebirth by a private midwife or a hospital homebirth 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 go to them. As part of your homebirth plan, your midwife or GP will discuss booking you into a back-up hospital.
You usually see one midwife throughout your pregnancy, but once you go into labour, two midwives should be present at your home during birth.
Many women enjoy getting to know their midwife and developing a close and trusting relationship during pregnancy. This can help women feel more comfortable and confident about asking questions and talking about different aspects of their pregnancy.
Where to find a homebirth midwife
If you want to go through a public homebirth program, you need a GP referral.
Some private homebirth midwives also need GP referrals. You can ask about this when you first contact any midwives you're interested in.
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 is an option for you.
To find a private midwife, you can:
- use the Homebirth Australia website or call(02) 6545 3612
- use the Midwives Australia website
- use the Australian College of Midwives website or call the College on 1300 360 480 (local call cost from a landline)
A homebirth with a private midwife can cost $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 any possible Medicare or private health fund rebates. Eligible midwives can provide rebates for care before and after the birth, but not the birth.
A few hospitals and birth centres now offer Medicare-funded homebirths as an option for some women. In this case, Medicare covers (or partly covers) the cost of your care.