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Parent story - homebirth

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.

Pregnancy care

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.

Around the day of the birth

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:

  • Medicare covers (or partly covers) the cost of your care.
  • There might be costs for tests and ultrasound scans. You can often get some money back from Medicare.
  • There might be a cost for birth classes, if you want to do them.
  • Check with your midwife about any other costs.

Choosing a homebirth/booking in

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:

Other things to think about

If you’re interested in a homebirth, it’s a good idea to think about:

  • where you live – you need to live near a hospital in case of an emergency
  • ambulance cover – you need to have it or be prepared to pay the cost of ambulance transport to hospital if needed
  • emergency care – talk with your midwife about what would happen if you needed to go to hospital
  • your views about managing pain in labour
  • your midwife’s approach to care and family members
  • equipment and services for birth and your ongoing care
  • your home environment and the support you’ll need from family and friends.

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.

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