NCWQ Health Advisor Report: July 2022

Health Report July 2022

By Dr Kathryn Mainstone, NCWQ Health Adviser

Why I do not support home births under any circumstance

There currently exists an enormous groundswell for women to be able to claim Medicare benefits for home births supervised by trained midwives. Those midwives claim that that they can predict which births may be safe to conduct at home.

Let me say in the strongest terms that one can never predict when a normal birth may suddenly turn into a possible disaster. I have helped many women give birth in Queensland and the UK and I am very aware that when things go badly, it can happen in an instant. Being in a hospital where the team is ready to do a caesarean section and save the mother’s and baby’s lives is cause for an adrenaline rush. Heaven help the poor woman who is trying to give birth at home, miles from the hospital by ambulance in peak hour, who then experiences a massive bleed… She might die and so might her baby.

I did my DRCOG ( GP Diploma of Obstetrics and Gynaecology ) training in Cambridge in 1990. In those days all women delivered in the hospital then, if all went well, they would be sent home at six hours, if they so desired. Afterwards, I worked for a year as a GP in the centre of town. Two of the nearly retired GPs in my practice had each lost a patient due to post-partum haemorrhage in the days when home births were the norm in England. Cambridge is a small town and still the women could not get to hospital quickly enough. I have also been present when women have brought in their dead babies after home births to Accident and Emergency. One death within a family creates a narrative which can never be forgotten.

It is unbelievable how quickly women forget that obstetricians save lives! The death rate in “natural childbirth” is around 1 in 100. Midwives may be able to talk to their patients very well but at the end of the day, when a baby needs to be born quickly via caesarean section or die, it is not the midwives who have the necessary skills…

My own daughters are about to start their own obstetric journeys in the next couple of years. They will know that if they are fortunate enough to be amongst the 60% of women who have totally normal births, they will count themselves as lucky. If not, then at least they will have done everything possible to ensure that both they and their babies are alive.

SDG  3


Dr Kathryn Mainstone
NCWQ Health Advisor, MBBS(Qld), DRCOG, FRACGP


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