Where you choose to birth your baby is one of the most important decisions that you will make. Looking at the statistics of a particular maternity service will give you some great insight into the kind of birth that you could expect if you choose to birth there.
If you want a natural birth, look for maternity services or care providers with low intervention rates. Do your research, spend some time exploring your choices! Check out our Birth Services Revealed to see the intervention rates at your local hospital.
97% of births in Australia in 2007 occured in hospital.
There is the option of a public hospital or a private hospital.
In a public hospital there are different midwifery models of care — see here for more details. You will usually see an obstetrician for at least one of your antenatal visits and during birth, especially if you have complications. Although sometimes midwives will be your primary carer throughout the birth. You may also in some hospitals use a GP for some or all of your care.
There is also the option of using a private obstetrician in a public hospital.
A very limited number of hospitals may allow you to take your own independent midwife into the public hospital to birth (if they have visiting rights).
Private hospitals usually mean you use the services of a private obstetrician. Private hospitals have some of the highest intervention rates and if you want a natural birth, please check our Birth Services Revealed to check your private hospitals statistics to help you make a choice.
If you give birth in a hospital you will be subject to their regulations and protocols regarding birth.
What are your chances of having a natural birth at YOUR local hospital? Click here to find out.
A very hot topic!… I am in Perth and one of the big private hospitals here has a c/section rate closer to 80%, but they would never admit that. How do I know? I am a midwife at that hospital, I work there but would NEVER have my babies there. — Midwife
2% of births in Australia in 2007 occured in a birth centre.
Birth centres have more woman centred care and lower technology birth environments. You will primarily be under the care of midwives. Not all public hospital have birth centres and they often have long waiting lists.
If you have any irregularities in your pregnancy or during labour, you may be moved to the labour ward of the hospital depending on the policies of where you are. There are many reasons why women who are booked into a birth centre end up giving birth in the hospital labour ward, so do not assume just because you have booked into one that you will give birth in one. You are still subject to the regulations and protocols of the hospital which the birth centre is part of.
Research shows babies born in midwife-run birth centres had significantly lower death rates than those born in hospitals, an Australian study of more than 1 million births found. (Sydney Morning Herald, 3/09/2007)
Only 0.3% of births in Australia in 2007 occured at home.
Many women prefer to give birth in their own home environment. Women choose a home birth as they want to give birth outside a medically managed birth environment and believe in their bodies ability to birth their baby naturally.
One of the reasons that there are so few home births is because women have to pay for the services of an independent midwife out of their own pocket, which restricts homebirth to those women who are able to afford the $3-5,000 cost.
There are also geographical restrictions as women need to have an independent midwife servicing their area and in many parts of Australia there are no independent midwives currently practicing, partly due to lack of indemnity insurance.
There were 2091 fetal deaths in Australian hospitals/birth centres in 2006. No babies died at home during planned homebirths in 2006.
There were 2174 fetal deaths in Australian hospitals/birth centres in 2007. There were 3 fetal deaths at home during planned homebirths in 2007. Of babies born at home in 2007, 99.7% were liveborn.
To locate an independent midwife in your local area, please check here for Australia wide information or if you are in the Sydney area, check this list from Homebirth Access Sydney.
Source: the most recent Australia’s Mothers & Babies report, 2007
(available here http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10972)
I would definitely choose a home-birth again despite the fear mongering of this patriarchal society, which convinces women that they are incapable of having babies without the intervention of men and their machines. … to add tragic insult to injury women are numbed through their great moment of revelation. I believe the act of giving birth to be the single most miraculous thing a human being can do…it is surely the moment when a lot of women finally understand the depth of their power and connection to all of nature. You think it can’t possibly be done, you think you can’t possibly take the pain, and then you do — and afterward you look at yourself in a whole new way. — (Ani di Franco)
Birth centers in Australia: A national population-based study of perinatal mortality associated with giving birth in a birth centre.
The total perinatal death rate attributed to birth centers was significantly lower than that attributed to hospitals. (2007)
Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America
A study of over 5000 births in the USA and Canada. Women who intended at the start of labour to have a home birth with a certified professional midwife had a low rate of intrapartum and neonatal mortality, similar to that in most studies of low risk hospital births in North America. A high degree of safety and maternal satisfaction were reported, and over 87% of mothers and neonates did not require transfer to hospital.
An economic analysis found that an uncomplicated vaginal birth in hospital in the United States cost on average three times as much as a similar birth at home with a midwife in an environment where management of birth has become an economic, medical, and industrial enterprise. (2005)
Outcomes of planned home birth with registered midwife versus planned hospital birth with midwife or physician
This Canadian study of over 12,000 births showed planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician. (2009)
Perinatal mortality and morbidity in a nationwide cohort of 529,688 low-risk planned home and hospital birth
This is the largest study of the safety of home birth that has ever been done, and the authors rightfully argue that the Netherlands is the only Western country that a study of this size could be done, as about 30% of Dutch women give birth at home. They analysed the births of all low-risk women who delivered between Jan 1, 2000 and Dec 31, 2006. This study shows that planning a home birth does not increase the risks of perinatal mortality and severe perinatal morbidity among low-risk women, provided the maternity care system facilitates this choice through the availability of well-trained midwives and through a good transportation and referral system. (2009)
Birth statistics: Australia’s Mothers & Babies Report, 2006 & 2007.
Photo Credit: Homebirth http://www.flickr.com/photos/bellymotherbaby/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0