Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This article appeared in Australia.to yesterday afternoon. I feel like we've had a big win - so much for Mr 3am

Family First Leader Senator Steve Fielding has welcomed the decision by the Health Minister to back down on its controversial plan to drive homebirths underground.

Under the Government's original proposal, homebirths were to become illegal unless a midwife could find a doctor willing to work in collaboration with them.

But now the government says it won’t force midwives to work in formal collaborative arrangements with doctors as a condition of insurance.

"The Rudd Government's backflip proves they clearly underestimated how important this issue was to Australian women,” Senator Fielding said.

“Women should have the right to choose whether they want to have a birth in a hospital or at home, and midwives that assist in either case should be able to access affordable indemnity cover.

“The Rudd Government created this mess because it wouldn’t listen to the community and its concerns.

“All too often this Government is intent on ramming legislation though to suit their agenda without seriously considering the consequences.

“The Rudd Government acknowledges it made an error in essentially making homebirths illegal when it announced at the 11th hour that it would give homebirth midwives a two-year reprieve from its changes.

Now the government needs to guarantee that women will be able to continue giving birth at home with the assistance of a registered midwife once the two-year reprieve has expired.

“Numerous studies have shown that for low-risk women with appropriate transfer-to-hospital options available, homebirths are at least as safe as births in hospitals or birth centres.”

Midwives damn AMA-induced amendments to maternity reform

Senior midwifery research academics, including 19 professors and associate professors of midwifery, have signed an open letter raising serious concerns about the newly proposed amendments to Health Legislation (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill and the Midwife Professional Indemnity (Commonwealth Contribution) Scheme Bill.

These amendments are ill-informed, conflict with current regulation of the practice of midwives, and were promoted by a medical union (the AMA), rather than the craft groups most concerned and knowledgeable about women’s needs and safety at birth.

We and our colleagues are surprised and disturbed that pressure from a union rather than our medical colleagues has persuaded the government to make changes that are not informed by evidence, but appear to be based on protection of income and power.

We support reform of Australian maternity services — an area of long neglected policy by previous governments and health ministers.

To read the full article to go Crikey

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I would love for your feedback on the logos. I am currently working on establishing a free standing birth centre in Sydney. We have decided on the name of the Janeanna Birth Centre. You can find out more about the birth centre on our Facebook fan page We have four draft logos pictured below.

Immediately below is Logo 1 - the heart pod image is Logo 4

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pregnancy and Parenting Network

Our Pregnancy and Parenting Support Network had it's final get together for 2009. It has been a fantastic year with our network growing. Any where up to 30 people come along (plus lots of babies and toddlers) to share experiences, information and support. I personally am looking forward to our next get together in 2010.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Birth My Choice Rally Sydney

Enjoy my photos from the My Birth My Choice Rally in Sydney 9th November 2009

Curbed midwives push to break free

Curbed midwives push to break free

Sydney Morning Herald
November 9, 2009

MIDWIVES' ability to work independently - promised by the federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon - would depend on endorsement by individual doctors under an amendment to proposed legislation that has infuriated women's groups.

Birth advocacy groups will rally today at sites across the country, including the Brisbane headquarters of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and in Sydney outside the Surry Hills office of the Minister for the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek, to protest at the amendment, made public last week, which reveals that to work in private practice midwives will first have to ''enter a collaborative arrangement … with one or more medical practitioners''.

Critics say the Government has capitulated to doctors and the move undermines the intent of a series of bills before the Senate, which for the first time would allow midwives' clients to claim a Medicare rebate for their services.

It also threatens rural women's access to birth services, they say, and puts midwives at the mercy of sometimes hostile doctors for their professional registration, Medicare funding and indemnity insurance.

Hannah Dahlen, vice-president of the Australian College of Midwives, said the decision tied midwives' ability to practise ''to the sign-off as a doctor'' - contradicting the World Health Organisation's definition, which describes a midwife as an ''accountable professional [who can] conduct births on the midwife's own responsibility''.

Midwives accepted the need to collaborate, she said, but should be required to have working relationships with health services rather than individual doctors.

''There are particular issues in rural and remote Australia where sometimes there is no doctor, or no permanent doctor, just three-month locums,'' Associate Professor Dahlen said. ''This is not about safety, not about evidence. It's purely about politics. Collaboration's about mutual trust and respect. It's not about one profession choosing when another will or won't work.''

Professor Dahlen said the amendment could prevent new models of pregnancy and birth care envisioned in the law reform - such as midwives working in a group practice - from getting off the ground.

When she announced midwives would be given Medicare rights, Ms Roxon said the $67 million measure would ''improve the flexibility of the health workforce'' and allow patients better access to services.

The amendment is also likely to threaten women's ability to choose to give birth at home, if midwives cannot find a doctor to support them in such births.

Doctors groups - including the Australian Medical Association, which is understood to have campaigned hard for the amendment, and obstetricians' representatives - have been vocal in their opposition to home birth, saying it is unsafe.

Under current rules, midwives can manage home births but are not insured to do so and must disclose this to women. The new law would end this.

Alison Leemen, assistant co-ordinator of Homebirth Access Sydney, said the Government had ducked a potentially furious debate about doctors' veto over midwives.

''It doesn't enable the Senate to have proper scrutiny,'' Ms Leemen said.

''Regulations do not undergo nearly the same level of scrutiny as primary legislation. It's like signing a blank cheque.''

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Birth, My Choice Rally

Sydney Rally on MONDAY

from 10.30 am (THIS MONDAY!)

Outside the office of Tanya Plibersek,
Federal Minister for Women
111-117 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Rallies are also being held in Brisbane and Melbourne

Hi all,

Please find at the bottom of this Newsletter a media statement for Nicola Roxon regarding a Midwives/Nurse Practitioner Amendment. The point that will redefine the fundamental nature of midwifery and certainly homebirth midwifery in Australia is that “collaborative arrangements with medical practitioners will be required to access the new arrangements”. In short this amendment will require midwives to work with GP obstetricians and private obstetricians and have a “collaborative arrangement” in place at all times.

This is NOT acceptable. How will it be possible for a midwife who attends homebirths and for women wishing to birth at home to gain the support of a GP ob or private obstetrician when their own college statement does not support homebirth?

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) statement reads -
“The College does not support Home Birth or ‘Free-standing’ Birth Centres (without adjacent obstetric and neonatal facilities) as appropriate Health Care Settings. The College acknowledges that a very small minority of women will choose to birth in these centres, even if appropriately informed of the consequences”

In solidarity with our northern and southern sisters (who will be rallying outside Kevin Rudd’s Brisbane office and Julia Gaillard’s Melbourne office) please come and rally outside the Minister for the status of women, Tanya Plibersek’s office in Sydney.

We need this to be as big as possible. We invite other groups to join the rally to make this the beginning of a very clear election campaign.

Politicians need to understand that we have a very big problem and we are not going to go away. We have tried writing submissions, protesting in Canberra, contacting the health minister Nicola Roxon by phone and email, but she is not listening.

Our message:
My Birth, My Choice

We are:
Women, children, men, families, friends who support choice in birth, including homebirth with a private midwife.

Bring banners, drums and percussion instruments. Let’s make sure we are seen and heard!!
Bring a 'calling card' to drop off, letting our Minister for the status of women know that women want choice in childbirth and this includes the choice to hire a private midwife to birth at home (or in hospital). The calling card should be an A4 piece of paper (can be larger or smaller) with your name and address, concerns, experience, suggestions and a request for a response from Tanya Plibersek about this important issue.

Rally organisers:
The rally is being organised by Homebirth Australia and is supported by Maternity Coalition.
More info -

HBA: Jo Hunter jophil@aapt.net.au 0412 315 228
MC: Lisa Metcalf l.metcalfe@tpg.com.au 0437 577 576

Roxen Media Statement

Midwives/ Nurse Practitioner Amendment

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon has today circulated an amendment the Government intends to introduce into the Health Legislation (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill and the Midwife Professional Indemnity (Commonwealth Contribution) Scheme Bill.

This amendment makes clear in the legislation something that was articulated both on introduction of the Bill to parliament and in the explanatory material tabled at that time.
Following requests for clarification, this amendment will simply clarify in legislation that collaborative arrangements with medical practitioners will be required to access the new arrangements.

The details of these requirements will be specified in subordinate legislation following the ongoing consultation with the professional groups.

These bills are a key plank of the Government’s 2009/10 Budget commitments which recognises for the first time the role of appropriately qualified and experienced midwives and nurse practitioners in our health system.

The Minister for Health and Ageing said today “I thank the doctors, nurses and midwives for their constructive engagement to date to ensure these new opportunities for nurses and midwives are implemented in an integrated fashion for the benefit of patients.”

For more information contact the Minister’s office on 02 6277 7220

Monday, October 26, 2009

Homebirth Awareness Week: Celebrate or Commiserate?

NEWS RELEASE by Homebirth Australia
Monday October 26 2009
by Justine
Homebirth Awareness Week: Celebrate or Commiserate?
Minister’s Weakness and Bureaucrats ignorance continues

This week marks Homebirth Awareness week. Homebirth Australia fears that this time next year Australian women will not have the option of homebirth.

“It is hard to understand the hysteria around homebirth in Australia. Our maternity hospital
s are full to the brim, many of them churning women out conveyor belt style and yet this is considered safe, hardly! said Justine Caines Secretary of Homebirth Australia and mother of seven home born children.”

Mainstream Australian maternity care is not about women, women are rarely
consulted in the development of services, they are the main player and yet they have been silenced by practitioners who insist they ‘know better’ said Ms Caines.

Homebirth on the other hand is different. Women make decisions about their care, they invite a midwife into their home, rather than be
forced to meet the needs of practitioners and organisational convenience which happens when giving birth in a hospital” said Ms Caines

“The outcom
es from homebirth are also considerably better*. Women experience more personalised care and fewer interventions, they also enter motherhood happier and more content.” said Ms Caines

Something that is considered a normal reasonable choice in the U.K, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Canada is under threat of extinction in Australia. Bureaucrats advising the
Minister do not even understand homebirth and they refuse to seek information from key stakeholders

“Asking an Obstetrician about homebirth is like seeking advice from a midwife on
caesarean surgery.” said Ms Caines

“Health Minister Nicola Roxon plans to fund midwifery care under Medicare, something sorely needed. She has however excluded homebirth. She did this against
all evidence and the express wishes of the women of Australia across two enquiries, one that broke a Senate record on the number of submissions received.” said Ms Caines

The question remains; Will politicians continue to be more responsive to those with deep vested interest in maternity services? It is time to
step upand listen to women, the very people for whom these so called reforms are proposed.” asked Ms Caines

* Victorian example of homebirth outcomes vs Hospital

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Jane Palmer wrote:

Pregnancy and Parenting Network

27 Hart Street

Dundas Valley NSW 2117

Phone (02) 9873 1750

Email: jane@pregnancy.com.au

Website: www.pregnancy.com.au

Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond & New Beginnings Midwifery Practice

Invites you to our pregnancy and parenting network on the following dates for 2009 & 2010


29th October 2009

Natural choices for pregnancy and birth


26th November 2009

Ideas for Toddlers & Christmas Celebrations


21st January 2010

Pregnancy Testing


18th February 2010

Unexpected outcomes


18th March 2010



22nd April 2010

Birth Stories


20th May 2010

Pregnancy Experiences


17th June 2010



22nd July 2010

Returning to Paid Employment and childcare


19th August 2010

Pregnancy and Parenting for older mothers


16th September2010

Introducing solids, nutrition, food additives and food intolerances


14th October 2010

Open Forum


11th November 2010

Birth Techniques


9th December 2010

Childhood Development, play, preschool and school options & Christmas Celebrations

No booking is necessary. Please note that the group get togethers are roughly 4 weeks apart. The open forum provides the group an opportunity to discuss any topic and a guest speaker may be invited. The group is held at Jane’s place (27 Hart Street, Dundas Valley) from 10am until 12pm. These get togethers are casual and provide you with opportunity to talk about all sorts of issues in a safe, supportive and relaxing environment. Please bring a plate of food to share (anything you can manage).

As always, mums, dads, friends and kids are all welcome! See you there!

Love Jane and Robyn

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home or Hospital?

Channel 7 Sunday Night's program has just done a feature on Homebirth. To see the video footage visit http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunday-night

Anna's birth of Ben is just beautiful. The lack of midwifery voice and the latest research is disappointing.

This is however is one of the better portrayals of homebirth in mainstream media.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Homebirth Rally 7th Sept 09

Here are a few photos we took of the Homebirth Rally in Canberra today the 7th of September 2009. There were thousands of people who braved the cold and the rain to campaign for the rights of homebirthing women.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Annoucement by Homebirth Australia

Dear homebirth supporter

This afternoon we were sent through a joint communique from Australian Health Ministers.

Below is an excerpt from the communique


Health Ministers agreed to a transitional clause in the current draft National Registration and Accreditation Scheme legislation which provides a two year exemption until June 2012 from holding indemnity insurance for privately practising midwives who are unable to obtain professional indemnity insurance for attending a homebirth.

Additional requirements to access the exemption will include;
  • A requirement to provide full disclosure and informed consent that
  • they do not have professional indemnity insurance.
  • Reporting each homebirth
  • Participating in a quality and safety framework which will be
  • developed after consultation led by Victoria through the finalisation of the registration and accreditation process.

These provisions will only apply to midwives working in jurisdictions which do not prohibit such practice as at the date of the implementation of the scheme.

ABC News link
Homebirth midwives get indemnity exemption

This only makes our rally even more necessary. An exemption for 2 years just isn't good enough. Do we REALLY want to go through all this again in 2 years time? It's simply a bandaid solution and will be the demise of private practice homebirth midwifery. This bandaid will take us past Nicola Roxon's term of office, therefore in 2 years time it could be someone else's problem to deal with and it could be someone who we will yet again have to heavily lobby and educate so that they can be up to scratch with the issues at hand.

So what does this give us?
A framework that must be abided by in order to be eligible for exemption from insurance, which is led by Victoria. We have been told by Nicola Roxon's office that this is due to Victoria leading the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. However, we have concerns that Victoria may also lead the development of a framework within which private practice midwives will have to work, in order to be eligible for an exemption. Some members of Maternity Coalition and Australian Private Midwives Association recently attended a meeting with the Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews and they reported back that "The Minister summarized the implications that the current Bills before parliament will have for women and midwives. He stated that midwives cannot continue uninsured as they are and that if they wanted to work it would need to be as part of a team at a public hospital providing homebirth".

He was asked whether he recognized the right of women to choose place of birth and what they would do in the instance of July 2010 if the issue is not resolved, "Well they will be faced with the difficult choice of choosing from what is available".

We have grave concerns that this will be the beginning of the end for private practice homebirth midwifery.

On radio this afternoon Nicola Roxon alluded to the fact that during the 2 year exemption, data would be collected and hospital based programs could be developed or a suitable indemnity product found. This gives us absolutely no confidence or guarantee and we are exceedingly worried that this will be the death knell of homebirth.

We have no insurance, yet again dismissing consumers of homebirth as so small in number that it doesn't really matter.

We have no funding, yet again financially disadvantaging women who choose to birth at home with a midwife.

Our message at the rally remains very clear.


See you in Canberra

Warm regards

Homebirth Australia

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Home birth with midwife as safe as hospital birth

Patricia A. Janssen PhD, Lee Saxell MA and colleagues
August 31, 2009

Outcomes of planned home birth versus hospital birthThe debate about the safety of home births continues in the literature, professional policy and practice. This study looks at one health region in British Columbia and compared outcomes of planned home births attended by registered midwives to planned hospital births attended by midwives or doctors.

Here we have another example of research in the support of homebirth. This latest study found that women birthing at home had less interventions such as epidurals, forceps, vacuum extractions and caesarean births and they also had less adverse outcomes such as haemorrhage and infection. The researchers found that baby's born at home were less likely to suffer birth trauma, need to be resuscitated and less liley to have meconium aspiration. More proof of what we already known - HOMEBIRTH is a safe option for women.

Full article

COMMENTARY: The safety of home birth: Is the evidence good enough?

Monday, August 24, 2009

National call to action – Contact your Labor MPs in the next 2 weeks!

I know we're all getting tired of fighting, however we need to keep the energy going to stop this legislation coming into effect. Please read the important update below:

The continuing lobbying efforts by homebirth, midwifery, maternity groups and many of the general public, has moved us considerably further along the fight to save women’s right to choice in birth care. However, we need to do more, and very fast! Parliament will continue debating the Medicare-related legislation on the 7th September - the same day as the planned “Mother of all Rallies in Canberra. We need to urgently ramp up our lobbying efforts of local Labor MPs in the next 2 weeks prior to the 7th September.

Here are the latest developments from the last week:
  • Despite almost 2000 submissions to the Senate Inquiry supporting the right to keep homebirth legal after July 2010, the ALP-majority Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee handed down on 17 August, a disappointing recommendation to pass the legislation. The 2 minority Coalition senators recommended further studies and stopped short at suggesting amendments, while the Greens senator offered one solution of giving independent midwives a temporary exemption from the legislation until an indemnity insurance product could be found.
  • In a meeting with homebirth and midwifery groups on 20th August, Nicola Roxon offered 2 possible solutions: 1) State-based hospital auspiced homebirth or 2) A Commonwealth-funded indemnity insurance product contingent on adopting a framework like the SA Homebirth policy. Feedback from the States show that the first option is not supported by them. The second option of a Commonwealth funded indemnity product is much more preferable, however the SA model will restrict the access to many women (including VBACs), unless there was a ‘duty of care’ clause which allowed women to make an informed choice about the risks and still access the support of a homebirth midwife if they don’t meet the guidelines.
  • Furthermore, this framework requires all homebirth midwives to work in collaboration with an obstetrician and/or GP, potentially resulting in midwives losing the ability to make independent professional decisions about their client’s care without obtaining the ‘approval’ of the obstetrician/GP.
  • Debate on the legislation started on 20th August in Parliament, with positive statements from the Coalition and a few Labor MPs in support of amending the legislation to find a workable solution. The meetings and lobbying efforts are working, but much more needs to be done before Parliament resumes debating this issue on the 7th September.
What needs to happen before 7th September?
  • We need as many people as possible to contact their LABOR MPs to raise the profile of this issue and get into Nicola Roxon’s ear. There are 83 Labor MPs in Australia, and their primary responsibility is to represent you, the constituents in their electorate. We need these backbenchers and ministers to stop Nicola in the corridors of Parliament House to express their concern and put pressure on finding an acceptable solution.
  • Our experience has shown that a simple phone call to the MP’s office (the more people calling, the better) requesting a meeting to discuss the issue, is enough to drive home a very strong message. Even better would be to follow- up with a letter and a meeting with the MP. We need as many people as possible in Labor electorates to pick up your phones in the next 2 weeks and make that call.
  • Save Birth Choices will provide you with all the information you will need: MP guide, sample ‘scripts’ and letter templates. Given the short time frame, you may not get an appointment, but don’t underestimate the power of an individual phone call. It is definitely noticed! If you are lucky enough to get an appointment with your Labor MP, we will provide very detailed coaching and information on how to conduct the meeting.
  • Check to see if you live in an ALP electorate by entering your postcode in the search field on this page http://www.alp.org.au/people/index.php. If you do, we need your help. Please contact Send mail to savebirthchoices@gmail.com urgently, with the name of your electorate and MP and we will guide you through what you need to do.
Time is of the essence- we need your help NOW!

From the Team at Save Birth Choices

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alex Hawke - Federal Member for Mitchell


Last month I had the pleasure of meeting one of my newest constituents, two week old Benjamin Russell, and his mother Anna, who decided to home birth Benjamin, her third baby, after two previous private hospital births.

Had her baby been due this time next year, Mrs Russell would not have that choice, because, as things currently stand, as of July next year home birth with a midwife will be outlawed.

From July 2010 it will be illegal for women to birth at home with a registered midwife in attendance. New national registration laws for health professionals, due to be implemented in July 2010, will require professional indemnity insurance as a condition of registration.

Without it, independent midwives attending homebirths after July 2010 will face large financial penalties.

In June, following a visit to my electorate office by Mrs Russell, midwife Jane Palmer and other concerned constituents, I addressed Parliament regarding my concern about women not being able to birth at home with an independent midwife.

Private maternity could be made more supportive and much cheaper if private midwifery were enabled and recognised. It is important that mothers are able to choose an appropriate model of care in consultation with healthcare professionals based on their individual needs.

It is important that the Rudd Government now acts swiftly to clarify the situation and provide certainty for mothers and health professionals on this very important issue. There is limited time for the Government to act with the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme due to be implemented next year.

The Coalition certainly support the choice of childbirth options for women, and I would like to hear what you think about it, please email me at alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Senate ignores women’s pleas on homebirth – recommendation to pass legislation

Media Release: Senate ignores women’s pleas on homebirth – recommendation to pass legislation
Tuesday August 18, 2009.

Today’s Senate report into the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwife and Nurse Practitioner) Bill 2009 and two other related bills failed to support the calls of Australian women to ensure that they can access a registered midwife for birth care at home.

The report recognised the concerns of stakeholders that the intersection of two pieces of legislation - including legislation drafted by COAG on national registration - may have the “unintended consequence” of forcing homebirth underground. However it failed to recommend any solution for the crisis even though they received almost 2000 submissions on the issue and the report clearly identifies that there is a significant issue for women wanting to birth at home.

“We are not seeing the leadership needed to sort this issue out” President of the Australian Private Midwives Association Liz Wilkes said. “This is a good old case of state/Commonwealth buck passing going on. The states are saying the Commonwealth needs to find indemnity and the Senate are now saying that the problem is the state based legislation. In the meantime the clock is ticking for the women of Australia who in just over 10 months will be unable to access a registered midwife to care for them in birth at home.”

The advice from the Senate committee was that the Bill did not restrict women’s right to choose a homebirth nor make it unlawful.

“The use of language to skirt around this issue is amazing. Women in Australia are not in a third world country. They currently have registered midwives available to attend them in birth at home. However this government is choosing to ensure through a complex maze of legislation, that women will have to choose an unregistered care provider from July next year.

“The Federal Department of Health and Aging’s solution to this problem, which they outlined in evidence to the Senate, was for women to be attended at home by someone as long as they do not call themselves a midwife, or be registered as a midwife with the national regulatory body,” Ms Wilkes added. “We find this ridiculous.”

Midwives will face disciplinary action for attending homebirths under state based legislation which makes insurance mandatory for all health practitioners. If midwives de-register and continue to practice, using a midwifery title, they may face a $30,000 fine.

“Of course what we will see is a rise in non-midwives providing homebirth care which will compromise safety for mothers and their precious babies. The Australian Private Midwives’ Association does not believe the only choice available for women is to birth at home with an unregistered care provider.” Ms Wilkes stated. “The real concern is that the Senate heard no evidence to substantiate the government’s position, yet they will wave the legislation through. We definitely have to assume this is more to do with politics and less to do with women and safety.”

Media – Liz Wilkes President Australian Private Midwives Association 0423 580585

Friday, August 14, 2009

Campaign Up-date

The last two weeks have been quite positive. It started with the Greens releasing the statement "Greens will move to protect women's right to choose safe homebirth" on the 31st of July. This was followed very quickly by the Australian Newspaper saying "Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon revealed yesterday she was looking at whether the government could accommodate home births in the $25 million indemnity scheme" (this was released just one day after the Green's announcement). On the 4th of August - a rally outside of Nicola Roxan's office was attended in support by Senator Steve Fielding (one of the key senators that the legislation will have to get past in the senate). On the 6th of August the Senate Inquiry into the homebirth issue was held and made for some fascinating viewing. The senators didn't hold back on repeatedly asking the department of health and medical organisations why has homebirth been excluded and why isn't their consultation with the key stakeholders i.e. consumer and independent midwifery groups (the report for this is due to be released on Monday 17th of August). On the 13th of August - the coalition discussed homebirth at length in the Party Room and Peter Dutton (opposition Health Minister) has come out publicly in support of homebirth.

"Save Birth Choices" Rally T-Shirts

Commemorative "Save Birth Choices" Rally T-shirts to help you to stand out in the crowd.

To order your rally T-Shirt visit Save Birth Choices Website!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Matches on Flickr

As the matches burn closer to my fingertips I think of all of the mothers and babies who will no longer be able to choose a homebirth legally in Australia after 2010.

Time is running out, let your local MP know that you support homebirth and a womans right to choose where she births.

Don't let mothers and babies get burnt by the government and prosecuted for choosing to birth at home. If you are able please attend the Rally in Canberra as outlined below:

Check out this on Flickr
- Matches on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Coalition is on board

I have been contacted by Alex Hawke's office (Federal Member for Mitchell) to say that homebirth was discussed at length in the Coalition Party room meeting on the 13th of August. Below is a relevant transcript for your information.

Transcript of 2UE news grab at Parliament House with the Hon Peter Dutton MP
PETER DUTTON: Mr Rudd has tried to outlaw the practice of home birth, restricting a woman’s choice. The Coalition strongly believes that women should be able to make their own decisions and the Government effectively is putting a $30,000 fine on midwives who practice in home birth and that is not acceptable and the Australian people do not agree with Mr Rudd on this. That is why we are calling on Mr Rudd to change his position, at least restore the status-quo but to suggest that somehow they can drive these changes underground is just not going to work.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Government discriminating against home births, says Homebirth Australia

By Bonny Symons-Brown AAP

August 06, 2009 02:33pm

PROPOSED laws which would stop mothers from accessing registered midwives for homebirths would jeopardise the health of thousands of women and babies, a peak maternity group says.

Homebirth Australia (HA) is angry about a suite of bills introduced to Parliament by the Federal Government in June which propose, among other things, to establish a national midwifery register.

Under the draft laws, midwives must be insured to join the register but private insurers no longer provide cover for homebirthing and the Federal Government has also refused to subsidise professional indemnity for homebirth claims.

HA secretary Justine Caines said the draft laws effectively stop registered midwives legally attending home births.

"The national registration requirement is absolutely appropriate," she told a Senate inquiry into the legislation.

"What is not appropriate has been the (Health Minister Nicola Roxon's) response to say ...'I will enable the funding of one-to-one midwifery care through Medicare for midwives who care for women birthing in the hospital system, but I won't do it for homebirth'."

Despite this, Ms Caines gave the Government the benefit of the doubt, saying any discrimination against homebirthing was an unintended consequence of the registration process.

"I'm not saying that (Ms Roxon) deliberately set out to do this, not at all," she said.

"What she has done is made a giant step forward and been too scared to take the next step because of medical objection, because of the power of the medical lobby."

The Australian Medical Association has previously spoken out against homebirthing, warning it is significantly more dangerous than giving birth in a hospital. But Ms Caines said Labor's legislation would endanger pregnant women who were unable to access registered midwives for their homebirths.

"I don't care if it's 1000 women or 2000 women a year, (Ms Roxon) is putting women in great danger," she said.

"She is also saying 'Your rights don't matter'."

There were both physical and emotional advantages to giving birth at home, Ms Caines said.

"What has come through no doubt in the passion from the women is the ... amazing emotional wellbeing for that woman, for her whole family, but also it does actually impact on clinical wellbeing."

Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert said draft laws effectively rendered homebirths illegal.

"Where there is a low-risk pregnancy it is safe to have a home birth and women and families need to be able to have that choice," she said.

The Greens will seek to amend the bills to ensure homebirthing with registered midwives remains an option for women in Australia.

From http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25891706-29277,00.html

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Home births back on agenda for Labor | The Australian

Home births back on agenda for Labor | The Australian

CANBERRA is reconsidering its controversial exclusion of home births from a new midwifery indemnity scheme, before a Senate challenge to the draft legislation.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon revealed yesterday she was looking at whether the government could accommodate home births in the $25 million indemnity scheme.

"I recognise that a very small proportion of women would like to have home births and (I) am currently investigating if there is some way that we can provide this as an option without making the proposed midwife indemnity insurance unaffordable," she said.

The scheme was welcomed by midwives, when announced in the May budget, as a precursor to next year's expansion of their powers to prescribe subsidised medicines, order publicly funded tests and claim Medicare rebates.

Private midwives had gone without insurance cover since the indemnity crisis at the start of the decade, putting their ability to practise at risk under a new national registration scheme for health professionals that also takes effect next year.

But support for the budget decision fractured when the draft bills revealed home births would not be covered under the new indemnity arrangements.

Not only would home birth midwives continue to lack cover, they would also for the first time be stripped of their professional registration from next July for failure to secure adequate insurance. Unregistered midwives who continue to practice beyond that date could face a $30,000 fine.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert announced yesterday the party would demand changes to the midwife indemnity bill and/or draft national registration legislation, saying the government had made a mess of its attempts to improve maternity services.

"If their planned approach is about providing better choice and safer deliveries, it's going exactly the other way," she said.

"Parents who have already had home births have said to me, 'we will never go back to a clinical situation so we will free birth'. That will put them into a much more dangerous position than before."

Opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton said the Coalition would "be open to negotiating with the Greens".

"I have real concerns that the government is essentially putting in place penalties for midwives who assist in a home birth and essentially they're going to drive the practice of home births underground."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Greens will move to protect women’s right to choose safe homebirth

Senator Rachel Siewert

Australian Greens Senator for WA


Friday 31st July 2009

Greens will move to protect women’s right to choose safe homebirth

The Greens will move in the Senate to protect the rights of women to choose safe homebirths if the Government does not change its proposed legislation, Australian Greens health spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

The Greens will move amendments to legislation on midwife services when it comes into the Senate in the coming weeks to ensure that mothers continue to have the option of a homebirth with the assistance of a registered midwife, without incurring huge financial penalties.

"The Greens' amendments will allow private midwives to continue to provide safe, low risk homebirth services in full collaboration with obstetricians and other health services. The Government legislation as it stands will effectively make it illegal for a qualified midwife to attend a homebirth in Australia and imposes heavy financial penalties for the midwife," Senator Siewert said.

"This will be dangerous for mothers and babies. It flies in the face of international trends in maternity care and appears completely inconsistent with the Government’s stated policy of providing pregnant women with greater choice and less interventionist maternity care.”

"As it stands, the legislation will ostracise a vital part of our health provision in the community. Independent midwives are providing an outstanding service for mothers who choose to give birth to their baby at home. What this legislation will do is drive them underground - we’ll see a return to the dark days of unsupervised childbirth, malpractice and the appalling tragedies that will undoubtedly follow.”

The Greens broadly welcomed the Government's proposals to modernise maternity services.

"Including midwives in the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is a significant step forward and we welcome the proposed Commonwealth-supported professional indemnity insurance (PII) scheme, but it must include all midwives and safe birthing options," Senator Siewert concluded.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't Blame it on Homebirths

Dr Andrew Lavender, SA President of the AMA recently tried to claim on ABC radio the higher neonatal mortality on homebirths. As usual these claims against homebirth have no basis on fact.

Higher mortality rates are attributable to other factors. To find out more check out the following:

Good News

A newsletter from the Greens and the Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said this:

"There are about 12 health bills coming to the Senate shortly, including one introducing means testing for the private health insurance rebate and increasing the Medicare surcharge levy. I've been part of the Senate inquiry into this bill as well as the one looking at capping some procedures covered under the Medicare safety net. I am very concerned about the changes the Government proposes to homebirths - which will effectively ban them. We have been consulting widely with families and midwives and will be preparing amendments to fix this legislation. "

A little ray of sunshine - let's hope this makes a difference.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To all those in Australia concerned with maternity services

Quote by Marsden Wagner, M.D., M.S., for 15 years a Director of Women’s and Children’s Health, World Health Organisation

Childbirth is not a medical procedure, it is a normal part of the life cycle and belongs to women and their families, not to doctors nor hospitals nor the government. There is overwhe
lming scientific evidence that planned out-of-hospital birth attended by a midwife is an absolutely safe choice for all low-risk pregnant women---women without any serious medical problems. To in any way limit or forbid the choice of out-of-hospital birth or the training and ability to practice of midwives willing to attend out-of-hospital births is to deny Australians the freedom to control their own lives and is to fail to honor the central importance of family values in Australia.

In the 1980’s the German organization of obstetricians and gynecologists tried to get a national law for
bidding planned out-of-hospital birth. The German women rose up and fought against it, there was an international outcry and the effort of the doctors failed and since then there has been a vast effort to promote out-of-hospital birth centers, increasing from one to the present over 100 such centers, all using midwives.

In the 1990’s the Hungarian organization of obstetricians and gynecologists tried to get their govern
ment to forbid planned out-of-hospital birth. The Hungarian women rose up and there was an international outcry and the effort of the doctors failed.

In the last decade, the government of Brazil tried to lower their very high caesarean section rat
e through working with the doctors and hospitals. When this did not succeed, the government of Brazil started up a national network of out-of-hospital birth centers staffed by midwives which are very popular and have quite reasonable caesarean section rates.

Efforts by doctors in Australia to prevent or limit in any way the option of planned home birth attended by midwives by completely falsely claiming, without any scientific evidence, that planned out-of-hospital is unsafe, will ultimately fail as the people of Australia cannot be fooled all the time and value their freedom too highly and Australia does not want an international outcry against them and to be seen as unable to prevent unjustified medical dominance of normal family life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Insurance Plea for Homebirth Midwives

Sydney Morning Herald
Kate Benson Medical Reporter
June 30, 2009

A CORONER handing down findings into the death of a baby born at home has called on the Federal Government to rethink its refusal to indemnify private midwives outside hospitals, saying home births will be driven underground with "disastrous ramifications".

In releasing his report on Jasper Kosch-Coyne, a newborn baby who died while being driven from his parents' farm to Nimbin hospital two years ago, the Byron Bay coroner, Nick Reimer, said home-birthing was a mother's inherent right and a practice "that will not go away".

Last month the federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, announced that private midwives would be given access to Medicare provider numbers and prescribing rights from next year, but indemnity insurance would not be extended to midwives attending home births.

"History has shown there will always be a small group of expectant mothers who will want to give birth in their home," Mr Reimer said. "Birthing at home should be an available option."

In an unusual move, he sent the Kosch-Coyne inquest findings to the federal and state health ministers, urging them to exercise "great care" in drafting legislation that would make home-birthing illegal.

The inquest found that baby Jasper died about midnight on July 18, 2007, after the midwife, Jillian Delaile, failed to seek help when it was clear he could be swallowing meconium in the womb. Ms Delaile had attended the birth on her own, had not organised transport in case of an emergency and did not transfer Jasper's mother, Angel Kosch, to hospital before delivery even though she had requested it because her labour had become difficult and protracted. The inquest was told the baby's heart rate was not monitored adequately and Ms Delaile failed to call an ambulance when the baby was born breathing inadequately with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck.

She left Ms Kosch at home to deliver her placenta with no medical assistance while she travelled in a car to Nimbin hospital, performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the baby in the front seat.

Ms Delaile had asked a family member to administer an intramuscular injection to Ms Kosch if she began hemorrhaging. Ms Delaile was cleared of responsibility for the tragedy because there had been a "series of shortcomings" and it was not possible to conclude any of them had contributed to Jasper's death, Mr Reimer said.

But a spokeswoman for the Australian College of Midwives, Hannah Dahlen, said such tragedies would become more commonplace if home-birthing was made illegal.

"Women have said they will have no option but to freebirth, midwives have said they will work so far underground no one will ever find them, people will fail to register home births and there will be a reluctance to transfer [a woman to hospital] when there is an emergency," Ms Dahlen said.

"No country has ever been able to eradicate home-birthing. The system will simply become unchecked and dangerous."

The secretary of Homebirth Australia, Justine Caines, said more mothers and babies would die if home-birthing became illegal. "Women will continue to homebirth, but will do so without the assistance of a qualified professional … removing women's rights to the point where we are back providing care in dark alleys or in back rooms, is ridiculous in 2009."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deaths will increase with new announcements

Homebirth Australia today slammed the exclusion of homebirth from insurance schemes for midwives announced by the Health Minister Nicola Roxon in parliament today.

"Effectively two pieces of legislation will outlaw midwives providing homebirth care from July 2010" said Justine Caines, mother of seven and secretary of Homebirth Australia.

"Women will continue to homebirth, but will now do so without the assistance of a qualified professional." said Ms Caines. "The result will be an increase in deaths for mothers and babies, this is certain. It is absolutely impossible to understand the government's position on this, other than to say that they have bowed to political pressure from medical lobby groups."

The National Maternity Service Review received submissions from hundreds of women wanting access to homebirth services. The vast majority of homebirth services are provided by private practice midwives. Removing this option is likely to end access for most women to homebirth.

Ms Caines called on all ALP members to declare their view on a woman's right to self determination of her health care needs. "If the ALP is so hell bent on preventing women from accessing homebirth as an option I ask all ALP members to publically state their position on this. It appears that having a Health Minister who is a woman, a recent mother, and a lawyer understanding consumers' rights, is not proving to be an advantage for women. Removing women's rights to the point where we are back providing care in dark alleys or in back rooms is ridiculous in 2009."

Australian College of Midwives Media Release

Media Release, June 2009
Mothers and babies at risk: Access to qualified midwives for homebirth under threat. Private midwives will no longer be able to attend homebirths under new national laws proposed for registering health professionals to have effect from 1 July 2010.

The national registration scheme for health professionals, which has been being developed by COAG and health ministers since 2007, released the draft laws last week. One of the requirements of the new scheme will be that all health professionals have professional indemnity insurance, as a measure to ensure consumers have access to compensation if they successfully prove negligence.

But private midwives have been unable to buy professional indemnity insurance since 2001. Most midwives are indemnified by their employers, typically a public or private hospital. But midwives in private practice are the ones who have historically provided women with access to the choice of giving birth at home. Access to indemnity for private midwives ceased in 2001 following the collapse of HIH and September 11, which caused insurers to reassess their liabilities.

“The national registration laws will require a midwife to be indemnified for all areas of her practice. This will effectively make it impossible for a midwife to legally care for women planning homebirth, because there is no professional indemnity available for homebirth care” said Dr Barbara Vernon, Executive Officer of the Australian College of Midwives. “This is devastating news for private midwives, as this policy threatens to throw them onto the unemployment queues” Vernon said.

“It’s also a very dangerous move by registration officials” Vernon said. “It is essential that women who choose to give birth at home have access to experienced midwives. The widely reported tragic death in March of a baby born at home without a midwife or doctor in attendance is testimony that unattended homebirth is dangerous.”

“Midwives have knowledge and skills that ensure women who labour at home can do so safely. They closely supervise the labour to ensure that everything is proceeding normally, and can arrange for timely transfer if they are not. They also have skills and equipment to perform life saving emergency care in the unlikely event of a mother or baby need urgent transfer.”

“The Australian College of Midwives is gravely concerned that if midwives are prevented from providing professional care to women planning homebirth, that some women will proceed to birth at home anyway, unattended. Any attendant they might have would not be a regulated health professional like midwives are, accountable to competency standards, codes of ethics and conduct, and required to maintain professional knowledge and skills. This is a retrograde step”.

Health Minister, Nicola Roxon is set to introduce legislation to federal Parliament soon that will assist private midwives to access professional indemnity insurance. This assistance will be for midwives who become eligible to provide Medicare funded care to women in the community for pregnancy and postnatally and for labour and birth in a hospital.

“We welcome the Minister’s recognition of the valuable contribution midwives make to maternity care evidenced by the Budget decision to give Medicare and PBS rebates to women or care by eligible midwives” Vernon said. “The support for eligible midwives to access insurance for such care is also vital given the market failure in this area of insurance”.

“Now that the national registration laws will effectively render it illegal for midwives to attend women planning homebirth, it is vital that the government’s support for midwives to access indemnity insurance is extended to include women who choose to labour and birth at home” Vernon said.

“This is the only option if the government is serious about maintaining safety and quality for all women needing maternity care in Australia”.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Law to stop midwives working outside hospitals | The Daily Telegraph

By Kate Sikora

June 19, 2009 12:00am

HOMEBIRTHS will become illegal under tough new laws that prevent women using midwives to have children outside hospitals.

The move is set to drive homebirths underground, with expectant mothers and their babies at risk.

There are fears women determined to have a homebirth will "go it alone" like birthing advocate Janet Fraser, whose baby died during a natural water birth in April.

Under the draft Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, released last week, a midwife cannot be registered unless she has insurance.

But with insurance companies and the Government so far refusing to include homebirths in the indemnity scheme, midwives will face being de-registered if they attend a homebirth.

Women's groups accuse the Rudd Government of stripping women of rights by forcing them into hospitals.

Australian College of Midwives boss Dr Barbara Vernon said the Government's intention was obvious.

"I had been optimistic until now when you can see it in black and white," she said. "Even though only less than half a per cent of women have homebirths, they should have the same rights as a woman who chooses to have a caesarean. Homebirths won't stop."

About 150 midwives do homebirths in Australia. Called independent or private midwives, most do not work in a hospital and are uninsured.

But from July 2010, they will no longer be able to call themselves midwives even though they are trained. Only those insured and registered can use the term midwife, otherwise they face a $30,000 fine.

There are about 700 homebirths a year but some say this may be as high as 2100 as they are under-reported.

For TV presenter and marriage celebrant Elizabeth Trevan, giving birth to her 18-month old twins Nash and Harvey at home was an "overwhelming experience."

"It breaks my heart to hear that the Government will do this," she said. "This is about choice.

"The Government should be driving this and helping midwives who want to (do) homebirths. They will never be able to afford insurance."

Home Births Australia secretary Justine Caines said the new law took away the rights of women.

"It technically makes homebirthing illegal," she said.

The Royal Australasian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is against homebirths.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Visit to Alex Hawke

I visited Alex Hawke, the federal member for Mitchell (Castle Hill and surrounding area) with a group of women from his electorate. Alex has made a commitment to fight for the right of women to birth at home. He has raised the matter with the Shadow Health Minister and raised the matter in parliament on Monday 15th June 2009. To view Alex's speech - click here

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Maternity units cut despite baby rush | The Australian

Maternity units cut despite baby rush | The Australian
AUSTRALIA is delivering record numbers of babies, despite losing a sixth of its public hospital maternity wards over the past decade.

Despite rising fertility rates and population growth, the number of obstetric and maternity services offered by state-run acute-care hospitals has plummeted from 298 in 2000-01 to 248 in 2007-08.

Neonatal intensive care and specialist pediatric services have also become scarcer in the public sector at a time when most other specialist units grew in number.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows the bush suffered the steepest decline in maternity services, with medical workforce shortages and low volumes of births speeding closures.

Australian Medical Association president Andrew Pesce, an obstetrician, acknowledged that many women were travelling away from home, sometimes several hundred kilometres, to give birth to their child.

"There's real difficulty delivering maternity services outside the metropolitan areas" and it was difficult to attract people with skills to some areas, he said.

Governments should make the best use possible of local facilities, but could not be expected to provide every maternity service in all places, for safety reasons, Dr Pesce said.

"Often they're small units doing a small number of deliveries, and they don't have the nursing, the midwifery or medical expertise available to provide a safe, co-ordinated service," he said.

Justine Caines, a member of the Maternity Coalition executive, said state health services had been too quick to use obstetrician shortages as an excuse to abandon local maternity units, arguing midwives could provide substitute services if current rules were relaxed.

She said so many expectant mothers were being referred to larger regional or city hospitals that those services, too, were struggling to cope.

Even in the biggest hospitals, some birthing units were so overwhelmed they required mothers to register within weeks of conception or, in one case, used a lottery system to decide who they could take, Ms Caines said.

"Why has this been allowed to happen when the midwifery workforce has been there forever, willing and able and yet prevented from practice by funding arrangements?" she said.

The reduction in services has coincided with a multi-year baby boom that has taken demographers by surprise.

Australia is expected to register almost 300,000 births in 2008, surpassing the previous record of 287,000 in 2007.

In recent years it has reversed a falling birth rate to reach its highest total fertility rate in more than a quarter of a century.

Queensland cut the deepest into its maternity services this decade, slashing 22 obstetric units and 16 specialist pediatric services, at a time when its population was booming.

Victoria lost 11 obstetrics and two neonatal intensive care units, while NSW closed down nine maternity units.

Only South Australia bucked the trend, retaining the same number of services for mother and child as it did at the start of the decade.

Women's & Children's Hospitals Australasia chief executive Elizabeth Chatham yesterday acknowledged planners had failed to pick the baby boom, but said hospitals had demand management strategies in place.

The federal government's $120 million budget package for maternity services, which boosted the role of midwives, would allow more creative ways of returning services closer to women's homes, she said.

"I think the policy to direct closures has relied on thinking of traditional models -- models provided by hospitals only -- when now we may be able to look at hospital services working together with community ones," Ms Chatham said.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Historic News

Australian College of Midwives
Media Release
“Mothers and Midwives Budget winners”

“Today is an historic day for childbearing women and their families in Australia,” said Associate Professor Hannah Dahlen, National Media Spokespersons for the Australian College of Midwives.

“Not only has the Rudd Government made the welcome commitment to parental leave to better support families with newborn babies, but they have also provided for:

  • mothers to receive Medicare rebates for midwifery care,
  • access to PBS for midwives,
  • national collaborative maternity care guidelines,
  • increased access at state level to birth centres,
  • indemnity for midwives
  • measures to enhance the access of rural and remote women to maternity care as close as possible to their home community.
  • A national telephone support service for pregnant women and mothers of newborns

“These reforms will together make it much easier for women living anywhere in Australia – from the middle of our largest cities to remote communities - to access continuity of care by a known midwife” Assoc Prof Dahlen said. “They will also be vital in helping to close the gap on disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies in partnership with Indigenous people themselves.”

Continuity of midwifery care involves a pregnant woman being cared for by a known midwife throughout her pregnancy, labour and birth. It also involves follow up care in the home for up to 6 weeks after the birth of the baby to provide professional support with the all important transition to parenting.

“This is not about substituting doctors with midwives” Assoc. Prof Dahlen said. “Obstetricians will, of course, continue to have a vital role in maternity care. Midwives providing continuity of care collaborate with obstetricians and allied health professionals throughout the episode of care, in response to the individual needs of each woman and her baby.”

Research evidence shows a range of benefits when women are cared for by known midwives from early in pregnancy till well after the birth. These include fewer admissions to hospital antenatally, less need for epidurals or for any pain relief, fewer episiotomies, more normal births, reduced need for their baby to be admitted to a special care nursery, more success with breastfeeding, and less vulnerability to postnatal depression or anxiety.

“Health Minister Nicola Roxon is to be commended for listening to Australian women during the recent national review of maternity services and for acting on the evidence that their needs could be better met with greater access to continuity of care by midwives, said Assoc Prof Dahlen

“These reforms pave the way for tens of thousands of women and their families to benefit from continuity of midwifery care while maintaining Australia’s solid record of safety for mothers and babies,” said Assoc. Professor Dahlen. “The confidence the government has expressed in midwives through these major reforms will be embraced by the profession around Australia.”

“Today the government has honoured women and motherhood in this country and recognised that ‘the hand that rocks the cradle’ does indeed ‘rule the world,’ and that we as a society need to support women and invest in the future– our children,” said Associate Professor Dahlen.