Thursday, July 8, 2010

homebirth in the news again

TV loves celebrity, and lovely Dannii Minogue has brought homebirthing into the news.

Today I have been interviewed by Channel 10 news. The questions they asked me were about primipara over 35 years of age, and transfer from planned homebirth to hospital.

Channel 7 Today Tonight program also aired comments I made about the safety of homebirth when interviewed some months ago. The questions in this interview were in response to outrageous claims about homebirth made in the Australian Medical Journal. For more on that, click here.

[The 7PM show includes a blog.]

The current focus on homebirth has come with the news that Dannii Minogue went to the Royal Women's Hospital, having booked under an alias, and subsequently gave birth to a baby boy. The parents and the baby's celeb aunty Kylie have tweeted their delight to the whole world.

So why is that story newsworthy?

Dannii had employed midwives - members of this blog's own Midwives in Private Practice - to attend her privately, with the intention of giving birth at home.

The reason for Dannii's change from home to hospital has not been made public. It appears that mother and baby are well, which is the goal of all midwifery care.

The fact that planned homebirth includes a 'Plan B', including a back-up booking at a hospital that can provide specialist obstetric care if and when required, seems to be conveniently ignored by some of those who make their thoughts public. It appears that sensationalism sells papers:

"Another woman is suspicious of modern medicine - until she really, really needs it:
POP star Dannii Minogue and her new baby son are bonding in hospital as they recover from a dramatic home birth halted at the last minute. Complications midway though a planned home birth forced the star to hospital to deliver her baby in safety." (Andrew Bolt)

The comments to that blog make interesting reading if you have nothing better to do, and if you are aware that uninformed opinion is just that.

There is absolutely no shame or 'failure' in moving from a planned home birth to a hospital birth.

The safest and most appropriate way for most women to give birth is in harmony with their own body's natural physical-hormonal processes. That's 'Plan A'. The professional practitioner who is best equipped to enable and protect 'Plan A' is the known and trusted midwife who has the responsibility of primary maternity care provider. That's what midwives in private practice do. That's why women employ us.

The midwife is committed to the woman - not to the place of birth.

Approximately 20% of women planning homebirth at the onset of labour will go to hospital for the birth. Some of these will have caesarean births; some will receive medical forms of pain management or augmentation of labour and proceed to vaginal births.

Primipara are more likely to change from home to hospital births than multiparous women. This is also the case in transfers from birth centres to standard delivery wards. The birth of our first baby is a huge physical and emotional challenge for most mothers. There is no shame or failure in reaching a decision to seek appropriate medical intervention.


Joy Johnston said...

A good question from a midwifery student:
"I found myself wondering today that if Dannii's plan A (home birth) had of eventuated if the media would still be as critical."

Tiff said...

If Dannii's homebirth had eventuated, we would not have even heard about it, as we have not heard about the many other celebrities who have birthed at home.

Joy Johnston said...

Channel 7 Today Tonight has also run a segment on homebirth.
The footage used by TT, interviewing a homebirth family, an obstetrician, and me, was filmed after the release of the AMA homebirth study in January. Seems the footage was conveniently slotted in to make use of Dannii's story.