Monday, October 29, 2007

Homebirth Australia Conference and Gala Film Night

Just reading my emails when I found a press release for the Homebirth Australia Conference and Gala Film Night this coming weekend (3rd and 4th of November). It is going to be an exciting weekend and I am so looking forward to going. The Sun Herald in Sydney included a double page feature on the conference and Shelia Kitzinger (a well known childbirth activist and author). It is well worth a read - check out the "Cot Crusader Lashes Australia".

Here is Homebirth Australia's Press Release.
Homebirth Australia is launching it's HBA conference 2007, along with a gala showing of the new Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein film The Business Of Being Born, at their conference in November 3 & 4 2007 at Paddington Town Hall.

Australia's maternity system is a broken mess. Unlike the U.S we have a universal health care system, but within maternity that system is being rorted and private obstetric care is milking a huge amount of money from the public purse. Obstetricians have raised their fees (and the public purse has footed the bill) by 269% since 2004. Our c/s rate is higher than the US. Our national rate is 31%. We have had a considerable increase in post natal depression. Nationally less than 5% of Australian women can choose a midwife and have their care (like the homebirth model). Less than 5% of Australian women can choose warm water as pain relief. Many women in rural areas are giving birth on the side of the road. There is a cultural perception that mothering is not overly enjoyable and post natal support is essentially non existent. Maternity Coalition has been Australia's national consumer organisation since 1989. Justine Caines who is organising this conference was the National President for nearly 5 years. She has now formed a political party for Australian women - What Women Want (Australia) to raise childbirth choices as a major issue, for a new minor political party she is receiving great media coverage and interest. Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein will be coming to Australia just before a federal election, in support of these issues, with their film, The Business Of Being Born. The timing is perfect for this documentary in Australia and for Ricki Lake, like Justine Caines, has set out to make this 'political', along with a host of celebrities: Elle McPherson

"I enjoyed giving birth to my second son in a birth pool. My birthing room was warm and candlelit and I was lovingly supported by my birthing team. This made me feel emotionally safe as I birthed my baby gently. I would love Australian women to be able to enjoy water birth just as I did. I am surprised to hear that less than 5% of Australian women can choose warm water immersion for pain relief and for birth! I strongly recommend that the medical system in Australia give women the choice to be able to use a warm water pool during labour, for deep relaxation and for giving birth. I support Homebirth Australia's work to enable all Australian women to choose where and with whom they share the intimate experience of birth." Hugo Weaving and Katrina Greenwood "Giving birth at home was both relaxed and empowering. The close bond our son shares with his sister after witnessing and participating in her birth will last a lifetime." Bill Granger and Natalie Elliot "After one attempted home birth and two successful ones in our family, having children welcomed into your world in your own peaceful environment with no intervention in the natural process, nothing beats a home birth and the nurturing ongoing support of a dedicated midwife and that lasting relationship with them that comes from sharing such an intimate and momentous moment. And of course the food is better too!' Come and Support Us too!

If you are interested in the conference - you can check out the details on Homebirth Australia's website. Hope to see you there.

First Shift

Yesterday I complete my first shift on the maternity ward. I certainly found it quite stressful. While the other midwives were supportive - I really was thrown in at the deep end to manage a variety of situations without being shown first. Lucky I can think on my feet and don't usually shy away from such challenges. It has proven to me one major thing - I've come a long way since I've worked as a midwife in a hospital situation. I'm in a totally different mind set. It is going to be difficult to continue with my holistic approach to midwifery care - while the hospital system is very task orientated, but I'm determined to do it. I must say though I had some delightful encounters with postnatal women and really felt I made a difference.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Launch of the "Pregnancy and Birth Group"

Today I was the first get together of the "Pregnancy and Birth Group". It was a lovely group - small and friendly. We were privileged to have two fathers join the group (usually it's only women that are able to come) - two babies were less than 2 weeks old. We heard stories of hospital and homebirths, both the positive and negative was talked about. Stories enable us to compare experiences, review our own experiences and plan for future births. Stories also enable us to work through our own experiences, particularly if they were an unexpected outcome. I believe that sharing stories and experiences is so important for expectant and new parents. The support between everyone was just fantastic. It has spurred me on to advertise the group in the local community. The next topic planned is "Gentle Parenting" and it will be facilitated by Denise Love. Time 10am to 12noon. If interested please phone me on 9873 1750. The details for the rest of 2007:


29th November

Gentle Parenting
Guest Speaker – Denise Love


13th December

Open forum

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birth Stories

This Thursday, the 25th of October, I am holding a sharing session at my home in Dundas Valley (Sydney). The topic for this month is "Birth Stories". Come and talk with other people about birth and listen to their stories. This is an informal and supportive get together. Mothers, Fathers and Children are welcome. Bring a Plate of food to share. The time is 10 till 12 noon. If interested please phone me on 9873 1750. There is no cost. Other sharing sessions for 2007 include "gentle parenting" and "open forum". To download a handout with details of the sharing sessions for 2007 - click here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Joyous Birth

This photo captures the essence of this "Joyous Birth" - the emotion and the triumph. I was honoured to be present as a midwife and it was a wonderful first birth after coming back from having time off from Midwifery. The journey to birth often has its challenges and this birth was no different. Claire had moments of doubt of being able to "do this" and a fantastic long stage of peace and rest before the challenges of pushing out her newborn baby. For Claire the most important part was the circle of womanly support she had gathered to take with her on this miraculous journey.

If only midwives could see birth as it truly is - most never have the privilege of being present at such a birth. All midwives have their initial practical experience in the hospital system - which, on the most part, is quite medicalised. Time limits are placed on labour, birth is managed in a prescribed format and intervention rates are high. For example in 2005 the average caesarean rate for New South Wales was 28% (the range for different hospitals ranges from 15.8% for Bankstown-Lidcome to a high of 46.8% for Kareena Private in South Eastern Sydney).

Giving birth at home is a safe option - but is often see unfoundedly as being risky and only for hippies. However research across the word smashes these myths on homebirth - homebirth is safe with a skilled midwife and access to medical care should this become necessary. Of women seeking my care 80% gave birth in their chosen birth place. Of the other 20% - 6% gave birth vaginally and the remaining 14% had a caesarean birth. My clientele is not always low risk - as I believe all women benefit from having midwifery care. The type of women seeking a homebirth come from many and varied walks of life - and many are from the so called middle class.

Claire has given me permission to share this photos which gives you a glimpse into her wonderful journey and welcoming her new baby.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Homebirth Midwife works in a Tertiary Hosptial

For the past nine years I've focused my midwifery on providing independent midwifery services for women and the families who primarily want to give birth at home. I love my work and believe passionately about the importance of the choice of birth place. For family reasons I am now only attending a limited number of births as an independent midwife and felt the need to network with the hospital system. The way I've chosen to do this is by working casually within a major teaching hospital.

I've just spent one shift in a birth unit and have found the medicalisation of birth has increased even more than when I was previously employed by a hospital. This saddens me no end. Research clearly shows that high intervention birth does not improve out comes in fact it increases the complications for mothers and babies. Within my own practice women birth under their own steam, in their own time with the people they choose to be with them. I would love this model to be available to women publicly - by that I mean free through Medicare.

I was talking to a hospital based midwife about the reasons for the extremely high intervention rates - her answer actually floored me. She said "its the women". Her logic was that they are apathetic and don't take response for the own health care. I didn't quite know how to respond to these comments (that is without responding rudely). But these comments have got me thinking - what is the best way I can influence women's experience giving birth and I think it is education. Not of the women, but of the midwives. This may be my path to take on this new journey.

After having a break for midwifery for the last 18 months - I've come back with renewed energy and passion. I am going to fight for better birth out comes and positive experiences for women and their families.

Friday, October 5, 2007

First Day

Wow!!! what a week. Tuesday was a very emotional day. Traveling to Melbourne for Nanna's funeral was sad, happy and very tiring. Sad because I was saying good bye to a wonderful woman who had a powerful influence on my life. Happy because Nanna had a wonderful, happy and long life. Tiring simply because of the emotions of the day (and that it was a long day). It is also an ending. Nanna was the central person that kept our families (Aunts, Uncles and Cousins) together. This photo is of all the cousins and will quite possibly be the last photo of this type.

Wednesday and Thursday have been quite relaxing and I have enjoyed life getting back to some semblance of normality. I have attended prenatal visits with my clients and have made live my new website This is my latest commercial endeavour which I'm sure I'll write more about soon.

Today has been a big day. It was my first day working on the ward as a Midwife within the hospital system. It has been challenging as it is a long time since I've worked in this way. I've been an independent midwife for over 8 years now. The hospital has a lot to offer in the way of education as a midwife and lots of support for staff. It also has lots of negatives - but nothing I can't work my way around. I hope to have a major influence both on the midwives I work with and the women and families I care for.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Celebration of Life

It's been a difficult week - I got news on Monday that my Nanna (Violet Hurrey) was in a bad way. Her heart had been causing her problems for quite some time - but now it wasn't pumping blood very well to her legs and she was in a lot of pain. Nanna's time on earth was limited - my Mum was told it would be no more than a couple of weeks. At 93 I think it is cruel that the body should do this to her. I really wanted to be there for her - but was unable to get down to Melbourne. Thankfully my uncle was with her constantly - so at least I knew she was being loved and supported. Mum rang me Wednesday evening to say that they didn't think that Nanna would make it through the night. Mum was in Sydney and was unable to get a flight out that night - I felt really sad for her. Nanna was still with us on Thursday morning - so Mum managed to get a flight. Nanna's fight for life ended just after noon - while Mum was still on her way. Both my Auntie and Uncle were with Nanna and said that she died peacefully. I am sad for mum but Nanna stayed in her room so Mum could say good bye (Mum didn't arrive until around 4 pm).

I feel I should be happy that Nanna d
idn't suffer for long and that she had a wonderful and fulfilled life. But I will miss her terribly - Nanna was very important person in my life. She was always there for me, always made me feel very special. Nanna had a very kind heart and had a special gift with children. Today I am preparing to fly to Melbourne so that I can be at Nanna's funeral tomorrow to celebrate her very special life.

I've put together some recent photos I had of Nanna - to see the album visit my Flickr page