Homebirth in rural NT – against all odds.

This newly birthed woman has shared her story of trying to find a midwife to support her in birthing at home. In the current climate where the rhetoric tells us that the federal government expanded women’s choices, we can see we’re being badly duped. This woman was strong and determined and birthed at home. She really wanted a midwife but our governments don’t care to provide those in the hope that we will be scared and go to hospital.

They didn’t scare her. Congratulations on your new babe too!

I was attempting to have a hb for my first baby in rural NT (2.5 hours from Roy. Darwin Hospital).
I found out about the birthing options that were supported by the “system”:
- birth in hospital
- birth at hospital birth centre – after obstetric clearance (including all routine tests)
- birth with midwives from community homebirth centre at a location I have to arrange in Darwin (hotel, rental apartment) or at birthcentre (ob clearance requ.)

Antenatal care would be provided by local clinic midwife together with hb midwife in Darwin.

I signed up with the homebirth midwives and have been assigned a midwife (there were no options, they just tell you :”This is your mw”).

I was not convinced by the (health department run) service they offered, didnt really click with the mw and also wasnt convinced that a birth in a rental apartment would be the hb experience I was looking for (on top of this it is a very $$$ option, as they expect you to come to Darwin 2 weeks prior to EDD).

Desperately I was trying to work out how to arrange a “proper” hb, that is, a birth “AT HOME”.

Neither Community HB midwives nor local clinic mw did/ could support this (department policies). There were mws and student mws in NT who were wanting to support me, but couldnt as they risk losing their registration or getting in serious trouble with their university (There was still mental and emotional support from one lovely doula/ student mw which I highly appreciated). There are no IMs in NT.
I thought about flying in a mw, but the uncertainty of the actual due date and the cost associated with this ruled out this option.

Slowly making peace with not having the option of a hb with a midwife, I started to consider an unassisted hb.
I spoke to a couple of “real hb” midwives from interstate to discuss the option of having an unassisted hb and get a professional independent expert view on this. In the end, it was my first birth, I DO live far away from the hospital, and I would have loved expert support from a midwife.

Meanwhile, at 36 weeks, my hb mw from Darwin advised me that she has to go overseas and I will be assigned another mw.
The new mw then was uncomfortable with me birthing in any private set up (as I didnt travel to Darwin often enough to “get to know each other” and cut out the option of a hb in Darwin, and (at 38+ weeks) advised I can still have her support/ attendance at a birth in hospital or at the hospital attached birth centre. Starting to feel desperate, I probably would have considered the birth centre, but I didn’t want to see an OB or have scans (I didn’t have scans during my pregnancy, glucose tests, etc).

At that point I was over it and decided to prepare an unassisted hb. After all, I was well informed, healthy, fit throughout the pregnancy, felt great, and had a good gut feeling about it all. I did not want to go to the hospital, or the birthcentre with mws I didn’t really know. I surely did not appreciate being pushed around by the system like that, and my already strong concern about birthing anywhere near the medical system was once again reinforced.

Preparing mentally and emotionally for the arrival of my baby. The med system became worried, as I did not consent to any of their offered options. Repeatedly I was being made aware of the risks and irresponsibility of a homebirth, especially so far away from the hospital.
(Still the system rather took the risk of me birthing rural without a midwife rather than “allowing” me mw support…? )

Well, my precious baby boy was born 10 days ago, at home, into the arms of his loving father. I had support of a great friend, who is a nurse and hb mum of 5. And we did it!!!!!!

It was a 16 hour intense labour with a 6 hours second stage (we checked babys heart rate for reassurance). I had a great birth, and I’m very happy with my choices.
I would have loved a good hb mw at my birth, I believe the birth would have been easier. I also think that the pressure from the “system” was at the back of my mind (What if it didnt work out? What if I had to be evacuated by the system I was rebelling against? What if I chose wrong against all “expert” advice and there was something wrong with the baby?) and slowed down labor and made it more difficult for me to surrender.

I am happy and I loved birthing at home, I loved being at home after the birth, I loved every bit of it.
The local mw visited me at home for the first week after the birth, which I appreciated.

But I am a bit sad that the system/ society treats and expecting mother like a criminal, not considering her wishes, intuition, choices.

On the other hand, we made a point as of course our hb is the current local talk, and got a lot of people thinking. I believe babies should be born at home. I wish local indigenous people could keep their traditions alive and birth their babies at home as well.

Love and light x

This entry was posted in careproviders, consumers' rights, midwives, midwifery, reproductive justice, who homebirths?. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Homebirth in rural NT – against all odds.

  1. Linn says:

    You. are. amazing. So strong, so true to yourself, so courageous in the face of such undermining tactics. Congratulations to you and welcome to your new babe :)

  2. Rhoda says:

    Congratulations mama. Sorry to hear of the way it turned out but glad you got the birth you wanted, you’re happy with it, and your bub is happy and healthy. Thanks Janet for sharing.

  3. IndigoMumma says:

    I loved reading this story. As an NT native who was refused the community midwife program and birth centre due to high risk (my first son was born via c/s) I have to agree that the system everywhere is flawed but they take it to a whole new level in D town. I have even known women to go south to Katherine to birth in order to avoid repeating previous experiences (VBAC rate is very hugh there as ‘high risks are sent north).
    Congratulations on your new person xx

  4. Kate says:

    I believe rural women face unique challenges in accessing their desired maternity care. I was also discriminated against for my location and desire/decision to home birth. I’m from Canada and I think many parallels can be drawn between our two countries–with the amount of rural areas and general anti-homebirth climate in common. There are so many similarities between this woman’s story and my own. I lost access to my midwife later on in pregnancy and my choices were to birth in hospital (with a GP or OB) or unassisted at home. I wanted a home birth so I also chose to birth unassisted. I am grateful for the birth I had and feel it was very empowering. But I do not wish the needless stress I experienced in pregnancy on anyone and it’s my belief it does influence how the birth plays out.

  5. Janet says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Yes, Kate, there are definite parallels in terms of distance. I think the obstetric campaign to remove homebirth from _all_ women is a bit further ahead in Australia but it is always interesting to note that it is an international campaign and follows the same lines in every country. Thanks for sharing. Have you seen Birth Rites? It’s a doco comparing outback birth in Australia and Canada via indigenous birthing centres.

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