Yass mother-of-three Jo Kay would love to have the option to home birth her fourth baby, due in two months time.
It’s a birthing option that not many local women consider, despite the lack of antenatal and maternity services here in Yass.
To hire an independent midwife for home birth services costs the family between $4000 to $8000, according to Yass doula Lindsay Hollingsworth. Only a limited number of private health companies offer reimbursement, and that’s usually capped at $1000. To hire a doula, a non-medically trained professional birth support person who provides antenatal, birth and postnatal assistance, costs in the range of $900.
Home birth is not a choice many Yass women can consider.
“I would prefer if [homebirth] was an option because I have straightforward deliveries and it’s a family event,” said Mrs Kay.
She said the costs associated with home birthing precluded it as an option for her family, but she was glad to have been accepted at the Birth Centre at Canberra Hospital, which is run by midwives and encourages less medical intervention.
But there was still the need to travel into Canberra for regular antenatal appointments, and an anxiety about what the couple would do with the older siblings when the time came for the delivery.
“Our family is not from around here, so we’re always trying to figure out what to do with [the older children]. There’s an anxiety about when you’re going to go into labour and an anxiety about getting into Canberra [in time], spending an hour in the car and not knowing what to do with the children,” she said.
She liked the less-medical approach home birth offered, and the fact the whole family could be present and involved in the birth process.
“I think the birth of children is over-medicalised. I like how midwives are now trained directly in midwifery, not general nursing – you’re not sick, it’s a natural event.”
Her eldest son Elijah, six, was present during the birth of his little sister Leila, albeit at a hospital in Sydney.
“We tossed and turned about the idea, but by chance, he happened to be there and we found it a really positive thing – a real developmental process,” she said.
“So many people have more complicated deliveries [than they need to] and I think it hinders the recovery process for people a bit.”
She also felt the expense part of the equation was a shame.
“It makes it harder and harder to have a baby at home.”