Home Birth

What is a home birth?
Home birth is a planned event where a woman chooses to give birth at home, with care provided by a midwife.Under the Community Midwifery Program, CMP midwives will provide you with care during your pregnancy within the community. When you go into labour your midwives will come to your home to attend you through your labour and birth. After the birth CMP midwives will continue to care for you for between 2 and 4 weeks postnatally.

    Am I eligible for a home birth?

  • Live inside the geographical boundaries (see below)
  • Are over 18 years old
  • Have not had a previous caesarean section
  • Do not have a baby with a breech presentation at term (37 weeks)
  • Are pregnant with only one baby
  • Do not have a significant pre-existing medical and/or obstetric history such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • Have not had a child with significant neonatal problems
  • Do not have any condition affecting either mother or baby that develops during pregnancy and increases the level of risk whereby home birthing is no longer considered to be a safe option
  • Are having baby number six or less
  • Apply to the CMP before than 35 weeks gestation
  • Have a pre-pregnancy BMI between 18 and 35
  • Weigh less than 110kg at the onset of labour
  • Have a working phone (land line or adequate coverage)

Please see the Policy for Publicly Funded Homebirths for a more detail on the inclusion/exclusion criteria and the CMP clinical guidelines which can be found here

How do I find out more about the CMP?
For information about eligibility for the CMP, how to apply, when you meet your midwives, antenatal appointments and postnatal support, see the About the CMP FAQ.

Why do I need a support hospital?
The majority of women on the CMP are required to attend at least one antenatal appointment with an obstetrician at their support hospital. This is usually midway through your pregnancy and your midwife will arrange this appointment for you. This collaborative approach helps ensure the best possible care for you and your baby. The obstetrician will explain his/her role should you require transfer to hospital care at any stage and may also discuss relevant tests with you at this appointment.

What pain relief can I have?
Most women choose to use water therapy and hire or purchase a birthing pool (see reference list for further information on water birth). A TENS machine may also be useful. Others will also use alternative therapies to assist them in labour such as aromatherapy, homeopathy and hypnobirthing; CMP midwives do not carry and are unable to administer these therapies. You and your partner will need to speak with a complementary therapist prior to your labour to ensure you are fully informed on the use of such therapies and their safety. Pharmacological methods of pain relief such as ‘gas and air’, pethidine and epidurals are not available at home.

Is my house suitable for a home birth?
Most people’s homes are suitable for birthing in. You need access to a toilet, running water, electricity and a phone. Heaters in the winter months are essential and fans/air conditioning for the very hot summer months will help ensure you and your baby maintain a comfortable temperature.You will also need to ensure access to your house for vehicles and an ambulance if required. Please discuss your individual needs with your midwife.

What happens if there is a problem in labour or immediately after?
All CMP midwives have the appropriate training and experience to identify a potential problem and manage emergencies and, if needed, can quickly arrange a calm transfer to hospital. In the unlikely event of an emergency, your midwife has the necessary skills and training to provide immediate response to the situation whilst waiting for an ambulance to transfer you to hospital.CMP recommend that all clients planning a home birth arrange adequate ambulance cover in case transfer to hospital is required.

How many midwives will be at my birth?
You will have two midwives present at your birth. One of your midwives will attend and support you throughout your labour and he/she will call your other midwife just before your baby is about to be born. The midwives work in pairs, as a “buddy” system. This means that in the event that one of your midwives is unavailable to attend, the other midwife will attend in her place, so that you will have a midwife you know at your birth. The CMP also support midwifery students and you may have a student involved during your pregnancy. You may choose to invite him/her to participate in your labour and birth.

What is the role of my midwife when I am in labour?
Once your labour has established, your midwife will provide continuous one-to-one professional and emotional support and ongoing assessment of you and your baby’s condition throughout the birth process. This will include regularly listening to your baby’s heart beat and monitoring your blood pressure, temperature, pulse and progress of labour. It is the midwife’s role to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both yourself and your baby, so they may be required to discuss alternative options such as transfer to hospital. Any changes to your plan of care will be discussed openly with you and your partner so that you can make a fully informed decision. However, it is important to remain flexible and be guided by your midwife’s expertise.

    What will my midwife bring to the birth?

  • A homebirth box with all the equipment he/she will need for the birth
  • Medication for the management of the birth of your placenta and to help control any bleeding (if required)
  • Resuscitation equipment, including oxygen.

Your midwife may require some assistance from other members of your support team to carry the equipment into your home.

What happens after the birth?
Your midwife will usually stay approximately two hours after the birth. They usually return within 12-24hrs and will continue to provide postnatal support at regular intervals until baby is 2-4 weeks old.

Will my baby be checked by a doctor?
The CMP recommend you have your baby checked by your GP within one week of the birth. This check will include checking for congenital hip dysplasia and congenital heart murmurs, along with many other conditions. Your midwives are not trained to undertake this examination.