Sunday, March 11, 2012


"FORMER Play School presenter Noni Hazlehurst said it was sad that more women who had low-risk pregnancies were not encouraged to have a home birth.

She described it as a natural, empowering and beneficial experience.

Hazlehurst, who had two home births, said some of her friends were alarmed by her decision, but she said it was a humbling experience.

A DVD to premiere in Melbourne tomorrow features Victorian, national and international medical experts, midwives and academics advocating a woman's right to choose their place of birth.

It comes after the tragic death of a Melbourne woman who died in hospital the day after her home birth.

Melbourne film-maker and actor Kate Gorman, who gave birth at home, said the film highlighted the unspoken aspects of the debate.

She said they were not saying that all women should have a home birth.

In the DVD, titled The Face of Birth, Hazlehurst says she decided to have home births with qualified midwives because she had heard horror stories about medical interventions in hospital.

She said her mother told her that in the UK only pregnant women with complications had babies in hospitals.

Hazlehurst said her son's birth was unforgettable.

"It is a much more peaceful and empowering experience if you can have a natural birth in your own environment," she said. "Yes I was scared and yes I thought when was this going to end."

She said the hospital was on standby and the reward was two beautiful and healthy children.

Hazlehurst said there was a place for medical intervention, but if women with a low-risk pregnancy wanted to have a home birth they should not be frightened out of it.

Childbirth educator Rhea Dempsey said we were living in a "labour bypass" era.

She said women who had birth experiences that they were proud of, often feel silenced because talking about it could make other women feel judged.

Royal Women's Hospital director of birthing unit Andrew Bisits said there was a heightened fear of things going wrong during birth, which meant it could become an exercise in avoiding complications and risk.

University of Sydney professor of midwifery Sally Tracy said the Australian caesarean rate was "absolutely appalling".

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists does not endorse homebirths."

There's no place like home for low-risk births, says Noni Hazlehurst

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