Suzanne Flowerday of Mullumbimby with her little home birth son Monty will be at the Northern Rivers Maternity Action Group rally on Saturday, calling for freedom of choice for women giving birth.
Suzanne Flowerday of Mullumbimby with her little home birth son Monty will be at the Northern Rivers Maternity Action Group rally on Saturday, calling for freedom of choice for women giving birth.

Mothers gather to voice protest

Mullumbimby mother Vicky McAllister chose to give birth to her third son at home with a midwife in attendance, and her husband, mother and two older boys by her side as this most ancient of miracles took place.

But from July next year women like Vicky will no longer be able to choose a home birth for their babies, as new legislation comes in that will make indemnity insurance unavailable for home birth midwives.

“What will happen is that women will start birthing at home without midwives,” said Vicky, “and this is just heading for trouble.”

Vicky is spokesperson for the Northern Rivers Maternity Action Group, and on Saturday (July 4) the group will rally for the first time, a coming together for those determined to be heard by the Federal Government that home birth, with appropriate care from registered midwives, needs to remain a legal choice for all women.

Vicky started the group, a branch of the National Maternity Coalition, over two years ago, after a “terrible hospital experience” with her first son, followed by two subsequent home births, which prompted her to get involved in a more woman-centred maternity system.

The group does a lot of political lobbying, writing letters to politicians, and has been successful in having representatives placed on two hospital committees and at Southern Cross University.
“Most of our work is about supporting women’s choices around birth,” said Vicky.

“We believe it is a woman’s right to choose to have birth at home with a midwife, and we believe that the government of the day should support the women of Australia in this choice.”

The Northern Rivers has the highest home birth rate in regional New South Wales, and in Byron Shire GPs and obstetricians are largely supportive of home birth, but the same does not apply in the Tweed or in Lismore, according to the Maternity Action Group.

“Because home birth is so ostracised, it makes it very difficult for someone to have a seamless transfer to hospital when they need it,” said Vicky.

The Maternity Action Group is keen to dispel the myth that home births are just something that “freaky hippies” do, but is something that a whole spectrum of women chooses.

The rally begins at 11am on Saturday starting from the car park behind Hog’s Breath Café in Byron Bay and walking down Jonson Street to Railway Park for a celebration with local musicians, sausage sizzle, face painting and a raffle.

For more information contact Vicki McAllister on 6684 2808 or maternityactiongroup@gmail.com

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