Practice News

March 2012

April 2011 image

It has been with sadness that the issue of homebirth has been almost continuously in the public eye for the past 12 months. This sadness is for the grieving parents,the attending midwives, the obstetricians, midwives and paramedical personnel required to assist and finally to the baby who sadly has no rights unless born alive.

Approximately 820 women in Australia were registered in 2009 to have had a homebirth which represents almost 0.3% of the annual obstetric population and is a percentage that has remained unchanged for the last decade. Although the figures are small the attention this group of patients receives from the press is disproportionate and polarises the community.

The issue of homebirth has become confused with a woman's 'right to choose' but with the exercise of any rights there are limitations and sadly this is so with home birth. For pregnant women erroneously classified as 'low risk' (this does not mean 'no risk') they have taken the view that the risk to their well being is extremely low along with the belief that the risk to their baby is similarly low and no greater than if born in a hospital. The latter assumption with the collection of contemporary scientific evidence does not support this view. Additionally women who might be classified as 'high risk' even by the homebirth lobby themselves (eg twins, breech, previous caesarean section) may also wish to exercise their 'right to choose' to deliver at home thereby increasing the risk not only to themselves but proportionately more so to their babies.This unfortunately is the reality for those of us,midwives and obstetricians,who work in the public hospital domain and provide emergency assistance,often too late,for all women choosing to deliver at home. Whilst much could be made of the unfortunate death of a very active homebirth advocate in Victoria giving birth at home recently, no comment can be made until the coroner releases the findings of the investigation being undertaken and the truth is that maternal deaths do occur in hospitals and it would take many years of data collection to be able to show a difference in maternal mortality at home or in hospital in a developed country such as our own.

If a woman's 'right to choose' is to be upheld in our society then it must be based on a full disclosure of the risks involved to all parties and if so then the compelling adverse outcome statistics for those babies born at home must surely prevent this delivery choice from being recommended or supported by responsible health care professionals?

To turn to other matters Womens Health Specialists has assisted 3 Maternal Fetal Medicine trainees from Indonesia in 2011 to complete a 2 month training rotation through Adelaide and we have received recognition from the University of Air Langga, Surarabaya, Java for our assistance.

Our midwives, Deanna and Jane continue to participate in their professional development program at formal and informal levels and they hosted an education evening at the rooms in which Professor Svigos spoke of his experiences in Bali and also gave a presentation on Post Partum Haemorrhage.

Professor Svigos was a member of the Organising Committee of the most recent Womens and Childrens Hospitals of Australasia Association conference held in Adelaide whilst earlier in the year he was an invited speaker at The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting. Professor Svigos was an Examiner once again at the RANZCOG Mebership Oral Examination in Melbourne and conducted a RANZCOG Hospital Reaccreditation visit to the Northern Hospital in Melbourne and earlier in the year a similar Reaccreditation visit to the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Our administrative staff, Maria, Carol and Shirina continue to negotiate with the Private Health Funds on your behalf and these negotiations will be of even more importance with the mooted changes in health insurance subsidies currently before Parliament.

We take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year as we face the exciting challenges ahead of us in 2012.

If you would like to read Professor Svigos’
story, “Homebirth. What say the baby?”
which was featured in the February 2012 edition of Medicus, the Journal of the Australian Medical Association WA, please click on the image to download a PDF.

Past Newsletters
April 2011
September 2011
March 2012
November 2012
June 2013
December 2013
September 2014