A publicly-funded homebirth program is set to be introduced at Victoria’s leading women’s hospital.
According to news reports, the initiative is only in the planning stages, a Victorian government spokesman confirmed it was expanding its public homebirth program to include three additional hospitals, including the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.
The program already runs at Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Sunshine and has previously been available at Casey Hospital in Berwick.
“It’s so important that women have choice in the care they access,” the government spokesman told AAP.
Currently, as many as 80 women give birth through the public program in Victoria each year.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) said it supported the expansion of the program.
“The home birth program is a positive step forward for women and their babies,” a RANZCOG spokesperson said.
“Where it is appropriate and safe, having the choice of a planned home birth program provides women with shared decision making, which is an important factor in pregnancy care.”
National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Gino Pecoraro said homebirths were uncommon in Australia with less than three percent of all babies delivered at home.
“At the moment there is no hard evidence to recommend one place of delivery over another for low-risk screened patients,” Associate Professor Pecoraro said.
But he said it was important that hospitals undertaking homebirthing programs stuck to a strict criteria and fully informed patients of both the pros and cons.
He said it was also important to be aware of the availability of ambulances, and ramping at Emergency Departments if something did go wrong.