BY assistant Prof Bruce Baer Arnold
MIDWIVES, birth workers and consumers will be marching on May 5 to raise awareness of the restrictions on privately practising midwives that limit home birth as an option for birthing mums.
The nationwide Mothers for Midwives march will be held on International Midwives’ Day, outside the offices of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in Barton, says Aimee Sing, co-founder of Homebirth Consortium Australia (HCA).
Aimee is co-ordinating marches in all major cities across Australia.
“My passion for home birth comes from noticing all the regulations that are restricting privately practising midwives, and in turn taking choices away from birthing mums,” Aimee says.
“In Canberra, the restrictions have almost eradicated privately practising home-birth midwives, which of course makes home birth difficult to access.”
Aimee had planned a home birth with her daughter, now aged four, which resulted in a transfer to hospital for a Caesarean, while her son, 16 months, was born via a successful HBAC (home birth after Caesarean).
“Choice in how and where we birth is so important because I feel that when options are restricted you’re less likely to be able to birth effectively,” she says.
“If you’re not comfortable in the place you’re birthing and the care you’re receiving it’s actually more risky for mum and baby.”
Aimee says the march, organised by the newly formed HCA, is calling on the government to come up with a solution to the professional indemnity insurance issue, to remove the requirement for two midwives to attend births at home, to remove the requirement for midwives to collaborate with an obstetrician or doctor in order for women to access Medicare rebates, to remove the recent new requirement of all privately practising midwives to undertake an audit and to undertake a full inquiry into the increased reporting of privately practicing midwives to AHPRA.
The regulations and restrictions can lead to an increase in free birth, that is birthing at home without a midwife present, says Hannah Dahlen, professor of midwifery at Western Sydney University.
“Women tell us the main reasons they free birth are they are unable to find a midwife in their area or can’t afford to pay for them,” she says.
“More and more women are fleeing mainstream maternity care after previous traumatic birth experiences.
“We will continue to see adverse outcomes unless we fix the system and respect women’s right to choose their place of birth and care provider.”
Speakers on the day will include privately practising midwives and consumers.
The march will be held on May 5, from 11am-2pm, outside the AHPRA offices at 50 Blackall Street, Barton. More information, at facebook.com/events/442015402885602/ or join the Homebirth Consortium Australia (HCA) at facebook.com/HomebirthConsortium/
Sign the petition here.