'False' media reports putting mums who homebirth at risk

Homebirths are not a dangerous experiment says blogger Susannah Birch despite claims made on a Sunday Night segment recently.
Homebirths are not a dangerous experiment says blogger Susannah Birch despite claims made on a Sunday Night segment recently. Jen Shipston

ON the most recent episode of Sunday Night on Channel 7, there was a segment entitled When Homebirth Becomes A Crime.

The segment portrayed homebirth as a dangerous and risky experiment by mothers who care more about themselves than their children.

Barely a few minutes in, we were presented with the story of a homebirth gone wrong, and the death of a baby. What wasn't made clear was that this was not what is normally considered a 'homebirth'.

In fact, it was quite different.

Homebirth is a common practice and safe for low risk mothers with proper medical support. 

Janet Fraser had a freebirth. Unlike the normal standard of homebirth, a freebirth is a birth with no medical support.

That means that a qualified midwife is not present - the only supporters are usually friends and family. Friends and family who don't know the warning signs of birth complications.

This episode of Sunday Night took the worst stories from the edge of homebirth - radical midwives, freebirthers and high risk deliveries - and attempted to portray these as mainstream.

Homebirth is a common practice and safe for low risk mothers with proper medical support.  

No mention was made of doctors who have caesarean section rates of 90 per cent or the number of deaths due to medical negligence.

No mention was made of the Australian public hospitals in several major cites which support homebirth as part of their normal maternity programs.

One important question was never discussed - why women choose to birth at home.

The western mentality seems to be that the health of the child is all important and any trauma the mother suffers during birth (whether mental, emotional or physical) is something that is negated by the live arrival of her child.

Women who've had a cascade of interventions they weren't expecting, from medical people they may not even have met before are starting to stand up and say that birth shouldn't mean a choice between their own emotional wellbeing and the physical health of their unborn child.

Why has our medical system become so bad that it makes women feel they have to step outside the system to have the birth they want, no matter the risk?

We should be acknowledging the reasons they chose this path and offering the support they need to do it safely. Instead we belittle their choices, making homebirth a much higher risk choice than it actually is. 


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