Demand for midwife-led home birthing has blown out since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and some women are reporting they will go it alone.
Demand for midwife-led home birthing has blown out since the start of the COVID-19 crisis and some women are reporting they will go it alone.

Virus fear creates mother of all dilemmas

DEMAND for midwife-led home birthing has blown out by 500 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.At the same time, "significant numbers" of women who cannot afford a midwife say they will go it alone in their lounge rooms in free birth.

Coronavirus anxiety in pregnancy has sparked a flood of women determined to steer clear of hospitals and book in home births with the country's biggest private midwife provider.

Liz Wilkes, a veteran midwife who runs My Midwives, says her phone lines are running hot.

"It's just been a few weeks since the start of the pandemic but already our figures are showing a rapid upscaling of 500 per cent in home birth demand," she said. "A significant number of the women who call say they cannot afford the cost of the midwife and ... will still birth at home without a medic.

"We can understand the anxieties but anything can change in labour and there are instances where it is vital to have a medical professional to determine the right course of action if things do not go according to plan."

Australian Midwives Association CEO Luke Williamson said there was nowhere safer to have a baby than in a hospital.

But some women are determined to stay out of the hospital system during the pandemic. First-time mum Elise Phillips, 26, planned to have daughter Naiah at Gold Coast University Hospital until positive cases of the virus started to emerge in Queensland.

Elise Phillips with her newborn Naiah. She opted to have her baby at home with no medical professional as she was afraid of coronavirus risks at hospital. Picture: Adam Head
Elise Phillips with her newborn Naiah. She opted to have her baby at home with no medical professional as she was afraid of coronavirus risks at hospital. Picture: Adam Head

"I knew there were patients with the virus in the hospital and sick people were going out and in all the time to get tested," she said. "I was afraid for my baby.

"I didn't take the decision lightly, I thought about if for over a week and then at 34 weeks into the pregnancy I made the choice.

"I would only have been allowed one person with me and it wasn't what I wanted. I had no concerns from my family about the home birth. I had done a lot of research with my doula and ... if there was a sign of a problem I would rush to hospital."

Ms Phillips said her first choice would have been to have her baby at home with a private midwife but she simply could not afford the costs.

Originally published as Virus fear creates mother of all dilemmas



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