Royal Hospital for Women launches hospital-based home birth service

The Royal Hospital for Women’s Midwifery Group Practice welcomed the first arrival in its brand new, publicly funded home birth service on Tuesday 17 July, with the birth of Rowan, son of patient Claire Evans and her husband David Cannings.

Baby Rowan was born at his family’s Paddington home, with the assistance of The Royal’s home birth midwife mentor Sheryl Sidery and Petra Fernandez (pictured), from the Lavender Group of the hospital’s Midwifery Group Practice (MGP).           

Helen McCarthy, Director, Nursing and Midwifery, Royal Hospital for Women, said she was delighted that the hospital could now join 14 other hospitals nationwide, which offer women with a low-risk pregnancy the choice of being able to birth at home.

“Over the past 18 months we have conducted a comprehensive risk assessment, prepared in consultation with consumers, obstetric medical staff, midwives, managers and RHW executive,” Helen said.  

 “In the past 10 years there has been a growing body of evidence that states that home birth is a safe and very enjoyable experience for low-risk women. The women of the Eastern Suburbs have been requesting this family centred option and now The Royal is able to meet their demand.”

Michele Pezzutti, Manager, Midwifery Group Practice at The Royal, said a grant from the Ministry of Health’s Nursing and Midwifery Office helped support the service’s commencement.

“We’re required to have two experienced midwives attend home births, so having the role of a homebirth mentor, who attends the births, made a big difference,” Michele said.

 Sheryl said home birth wasn’t the preferred option for all low-risk women – but for many, the comforts of home combined with expert midwifery care, was reassuring.

“It isn’t for everyone – some women feel safer here [in hospital]. But once people know that the care is being backed by the whole team here, they often feel differently. Technically, the woman is an inpatient - in a virtual hospital bed,” said Sheryl, who attended the birth of baby Rowan.

“For women who are low risk and who have family support and a motivated partner, they feel very empowered afterwards.”

Mum Claire said she hadn’t initially planned to have a home birth but was drawn to this option once she learned that the hospital’s experienced midwifery team would be providing the care at her home.

“It meant I was able to labour in a safe environment where I felt more relaxed and understood - and it was probably faster as well as we didn’t have to worry about when was the right time for me to get up and go to hospital,” Claire said.

If complications arise for the woman or the baby at home, they will be transferred to The Royal’s delivery suite or Newborn Care Centre; all care for women choosing home birth will follow the hospital’s current birthing guidelines.

For further information about the service please contact The Royal Hospital for Women

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