Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

But can I still have a homebirth? Aren't they making it illegal?

With the absolute mess the government is making of maternity reform, under bully-boy pressure from the of the Australian Medical Association, NASOG and RNZCOG, with their dog-in-the-manger attitude; and the resultant out-and-out witch-hunt against independent midwives, no wonder there is confusion and fear about the future of homebirth in Australia.

I'm not even going to try to unravel the unholy cats-cradle the 'authorities' have made of this. We need to wait and see what scraps they condescend to leave to us once the dust has settled.

But no matter what these blind fools say or do, stay focussed on the big picture: it is your baby, your body and your right to choose the care that you personally believe serve the safety and holistic welfare of you and your baby best. It is illegal, unethical and immoral of this government or any professional lobby group to deprive you of this and force/herd you into an institutionalised obstetric model of care that serves corporate profit interests and legal/professional interests more that it serves birthing women.

Women will always choose to have their babies at home, and there will always be compassionate, skilled birth workers to support you and serve you: with to without 'official' sanction, registered or not.

You may have to do what is 'officially' frowned upon, you may have to work with a midwife who is being bullied and pressured to abandon her/his vocation, you may have to be extremely proactive and creative in how you get around some of the red tape.

You may have to settle down your 'inner good girl' and unleash your 'inner rebel' enough to break or bend the 'rules' in order to do what you believe is right and just.

But no one can wrest the right to choose homebirth, the right to choose the midwifery model of care over the institutionalised obstetric model of care, the right to continuity of care with a midwife you have chosen and employed yourself, from Australian families.

Now is a time to stand strong and to resist pressure from individuals and institutions who seek an obstetric monopoly over maternity services for professional and financial interests that have little to do with the overall welfare of women, babies and families - to the point that they have no qualms about using tactics of fear, intimidation, misinformation and manipulation to achieve their ends.

It's not the time to ask, what is legal? What am I 'allowed' to do? Can I?

It is a time to ask the very questions that every mother needs to ask as she approaches birth: what do I believe is best for me and my baby? What do I believe is going to support my birthing potential and the safety of myself and my baby best? Where will I feel most safe and secure? Who will I feel most supported and respected by? What does my heart, my instinct tell me? How do I conquer the nagging doubt and fear and grow in trust and faith?

Below I'll list the various articles about the homebirth dilemma as they come to us through the media. Don't get bamboozled by it all, take heart and stand your ground: if a homebirth is your choice, you'll have your homebirth, if you have to get a Royal Seal personally from Nicola Roxon.

If you do face any issues organising & achieving your homebirth, or registering your home-born baby, especially after July 1, 2010, please make sure you thoroughly brief your local MP and cc anyone else appropriate (such as Rudd and Roxon).

May 17, 2010
'Quality and Safety' and other lies we're being told - an excellent declaration of what is really safe and quality care for birthing women by Janet Fraser:

"We declare that women have the right to a safety and quality framework for maternity care as defined by us, and us alone.

We have the right to decide where, when, how and with whom we birth.

We declare that safety and quality are only able to be defined by individual women who have the right to bodily autonomy and that any system which seeks to force models of care on unwilling women is unethical, iniquitous and irrelevant.

We will make our own healthcare decisions based on our needs not the desires of professional groups or governments.

We acknowledge the right of professional groups to create guidelines for their members should their members so choose.

We will not recognise the desire of professional groups or government to force those guidelines upon us and our families and communities.

As consumers of the healthcare system we choose the manner in which we engage with healthcare professionals and will access care which suits us in ways which suit us.

These are basic human rights."

June 7, 2010
Roxon optimistic about homebirth future
Gee, does she mean the AMA is optimistic that it will be succesfully marginalised and driven underground? I know few homebirthers and homebirth midwives who are feeling very 'optimistic' right now. But we're all good at spotting spin from the spin-doctors by now.

June 7, 2010
Newborn dies in hospital after vacuum extraction

The sad truth is, 2000 babies die in Australian hospitals every year, some from iotrogenic causes - if they had been in the midwifery model of care instead of the obstetric model of care, they may have survived. Overall, Australia has reasonably low rates of infant mortality, and these rates are similar regardless of whether babies are born at home or in hospital. Homebirth, overall, is not more dangerous for babies. Birth is not 100% risk averse and safety-guaranteed; even a 100% induction or c/s rate will not improve statistics. Birth is as safe as life gets, and demonising homebirth and witch-hunting midwives will not improve the statistics.

So, let women possess their human right to a choice between the midwifery and obstetric models, and STOP persecuting our midwives.

June 8, 2010
Example #1 of a midwife being witch-hunted
Midwife Jillian Delaile

Yet here are the Coroner's findings
Pity they did not heed his warnings.

June 8, 2010
Homebirths a 'major risk' - crass stupidity and bias from an incompetent journalist who clearly can't discern between fact and anecdata. Susie - how many more kids' lives will be put at risk before obstetric births are banned? See, I can do logic disconnect, too.

Homebirth Rights and Responsibility – A response to Susie O'Brien from Justine Caines - a sensible response to the O'Brien disinformation, which of course the herland Sun did not print. Is it the truth - or did you read it in the Herald Sun?

Commonwealth Reinstates Witch Burning - a spoof, but many a true word was spoken in jest.

Example #2 of a midwife being witch-huntedJune 9, 2010
Homebirths Legal But Midwives Not Indemnified - excellent comment by MP Sharman Stone. Sharman attended the 2010 Homebirth Australia conference (which I also attended) and spoke strongly.

Home birthers "being denied drugs"
The Australian College of Midwives says doctors are denying drugs and tests to women who want home births because they fear being sued if something goes wrong.

A follow up letter to the above article:

Doctors bend rules
The homebirth debate (''Homebirth mothers being refused prescriptions'', June 8) has come down to an unedifying disagreement about syntocinon - a life-saving drug if ever there was one.

Steve Smith (Letters, June 10) is being a little disingenuous in reproducing details from the medicines guide /MIMS/. First, midwives would not be administering the drug intravenously but intramuscularly, which is safer than stated in /MIMS/.

Second, the doctor that abides by the letter of /MIMS/ is rare, and indeed we do not uncommonly use drugs in pregnancy contrary to the advice of /MIMS/. And third, we all agree syntocinon is much better than nothing if a woman is haemorrhaging.

As an old-fashioned conservative obstetrician I find homebirth scary, especially as it seems that a number of women who choose homebirths are at comparatively high risk of complications. But I - and all obstetricians - would do well to remember that from time to time mothers and babies come to significant harm in hospitals.
- Rob Buist, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Randwick

June 11, 2010
Article from The Australian Doctor
Ann Catchlove of Maternity Coalition, mentioned in this article, is an academic who had a traumatic hospital birth before she had a homebirth, so she is well-positioned to understand the issues, and it is pathetic that they are trying to exclude her.

Absurd, childish and pathetic: the latest in maternity services reform - comment from Croakey

"The RANZCOG has reportedly refused to attend the meeting because community representatives who support homebirths have been invited.

If you were ever in doubt about the need for reform of maternity services, then look no further.

If you were ever in doubt about why reform in this area is so excruciatingly difficult, then look no further.

And if you were ever in doubt that professional interests rule in the health sector, then look no further."

Save birth choices - Australian families deserve a voice and a choice - another post on Melbourne Doula:

"Keep writing your letters to Senators, to Ms. Roxon, to your local MPs. You are entitled to a voice and now is the time to raise it. We all know that this is about the rights of women, babies and families, to have safe alternative to the medical, corporatised monopoly over birth, an event which holds profound significance and important repercussions for each one of us.

Don't let cultural norms, the economic climate, politics, laws, increasing technologisation of family life, beliefs, misinformation, scare tactics, expectations from family, friends, society or government, lack of freedom, the failure of democracy, oppression, persecution or ANYTHING else prevent you from choosing the safest, gentlest, wisest way to give birth, for the sake or your well-being, your baby's well-being and that of you family and everyone in it.

Regardless of what the law will be from July onwards, we need to see the bigger picture. Right around the world, natural values and feminine wisdom is being denigrated and marginalised. In every society where technology is advancing, natural living skills are being lost, sometimes irretrievably. In countries where this is not a mutually honouring balance between the wisdom of the masculine and the wisdom of the feminine, you see the feminine being dominated, and vital wisdom and skills being trodden under foot.

Every woman knows deep in her heart and soul what she is capable of and what she needs to give birth safely. You can't look at what is available, what is "allowed", what is even "legal" and then try to work within that. You need to start with your own deep wisdom, your own vision of what you know is right and safe and good for you when you are birthing. And then - choose that. And do whatever you need to achieve that.

Underground or not, we in Australia are part of a network of women and men in every country who are clinging onto the remnants of natural wisdom and knowledge, to preserve the love and gentleness and compassion needed to nuture our unborns, birth them safely, and parent them gently and kindly.

Don't give up and don't let any authority of home, church, state or peer group, dictate what is accepable for you. Access your own inner wisdom, know the heart of God for you and for all women, then reach out to support, and feel the support of, women (and caring men) all around the world who instinctively know that these things are too precious to lose and cannot be wrested from our possession so easily."

June 13, 2010
With a little Sunshine, homebirth rate is due to expand

15 June 2010
Private Midwife insurance 'expensive and unfair'

Federal Opposition spokesman for the status of women Sharman Stone says the Federal Government-supported scheme, which comes into effect at the beginning of next month, fails to meet the needs of both midwives and mothers seeking homebirths.

June 23, 2010
"Women May Have To Be A Bit Pushy"
- "Answer to Homebirth Question" from Maternity Coalition
* Midwives will need to buy expensive insurance, and will need to demonstrate collaborative arrangements with hospitals, which will create a quagmire of hoops and loops for midwives to navigate and provide very little professional protection or support for independent midwives serving homebirthing couples.
* For "eligible" midwives, pre and post natal care *might* be rebatable through Medicare - but not labour and birth care! Go figure.
* Homebirthing women will have to have a back-up booking with a hospital for the midwife to be eligible for PI, and for the woman to be eligible for Medicare rebates (pre and post natal care only).
"Women planning a homebirth with an eligible midwife, and wanting to receive Medicare rebates for their care, may have to approach their hospital themselves to ask them to agree to collaborate in their care."

July 23, 2010
The medical veto over Medicare for Midwives is now law - from Maternity Coalition
"In March 2010 when the Senate was debating this legislation, the Government stated that "There is no intention to provide a right of veto over another health professional’s practice". However, under intense pressure from the medical lobby, this is exactly what has occurred. Most importantly, it is women's choices and access to care which are being vetoed, to protect medical control of the maternity marketplace."

Greens will act to help midwives
"This regulation puts doctors in total control of midwives and makes a mockery of the Government's $120 million “Medicare for Midwives” reforms,” said Senator Siewert."

Doctors Milk Free Birth Rebates Under Medicare Safety Net
This article makes it quite clear that money, corruption and greed is what is driving the push for a medical monopoly over midwifery - not "safety".

August 29, 2010
Women as Fodder - Australia's Obstetric Monopoly - from The Unnecesarean
"Obstetrics is a billion-dollar industry, fuelling the profits of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and obstetricians … but we don’t have the money to insure midwives, fund homebirth or provides culturally-sensitive and appropriate care for the most disadvantaged women in Australia?? What a con. The check for allowing an obstetric monopoly to snuff out the womanly arts of midwifery and normal birth & breastfeeding has not yet been presented. The voice of women, mothers and midwives, is not being heard. Big business and a greedy, corporate style approach to delivering maternity care has a lot to answer for. Midwifery must be an autonomous profession, and supported as a check to, and alternative to, the excesses of the obstetric model of care. All maternity care must be woman-centered and woman-led, and women themselves must have the final say in what is ‘safe’ for themselves and their babies. Until women have such self-determination in their own care and well-being and that of our babies, and until midwifery is on equal footing with the medical/obstetric juggernaut, we will continue to see rising rates of intervention, financial corruption & waste, post-natal trauma, lowering rates of breastfeeding, and the art of natural birth and mothering will continue its demise.

When there is ‘blood on the carpet’: when a woman gives birth under her own power, with birth attendants she has chosen herself, in a place of privacy, trust and peace… a lot of ‘fat cats’ don’t get paid.

And that is the bottom line in the obstetric-midwifery turf war. It is not about ‘safety’. It is about control - and greed."

September 22, 2010
New Legislation Making it Harder to Homebirth
Just as choice for medical intrusion and intervention has become the legal right for so many women, so has the wish for an intervention free environment become the aim for many woman who want to homebirth their babies.
New legislation ‘unworkable’

It has never been easy to have a homebirth, and legislation before parliament at its next sitting will make it so unworkable for privately practiscing midwives to operate that many, like local woman Sue Cookson – a midwife who has assisted with over 400 homebirths in 28 years – will simply retire from service.

This will leave pregnant woman like mum-to-be Kylee McGrath with no other option than to be assisted by non registered midwives which will open the floodgates for an entire new set of issues, which is what Kylee says she will resort to if she cannot find a registered midwife prepared to help with her birth.

Put simply, for homebirth midwives to be covered by Medicare and have appropriate insurance, homebirth needs to be approved by Medicare, whose decision makers are a panel of eight folk, five of which are medical practitioners, who are in turn, members of the Australian Medical Association, AMA.

The AMA is not a huge fan of homebirth and the constraints put on homebirth midwives are making it too complicated and impractical to operate.

Ms Cookson says that the changes and amount of codes, regulations and other requirements of the new legislation makes it nearly impossible to get the job done.

‘Rather than participate in the compromises that I would need to make, I have chosen to retire,’ says Sue. ‘This is heartbreaking for me but the legislation is very unworkable.’


Anonymous said...

Hi Julie, just had to share this on facebook, hope you dont mind :) Rebecca.

Julie said...

Not at all, Bec, share away. Thanks for helping get the word out.