DOCTOR: Rural hospitals can't support risky birth craze
A CONDAMINE Medical Centre doctor and GP-obstetrician said the Australian medical system was not designed to support homebirths compared with other parts of the world.
"Homebirth works well in Europe where the system is geared up for very efficient transportation of mothers if complications arise,” Dr David Doolan said.
"Australia is not like that. If you are going to deliver in the country you need things in place to protect against unforeseen complications.”
Dr Doolan said the Western medical model was designed around predicting the worst possible outcomes and looking at ways to prevent such occurrences.
He said unpredictable complications during childbirth were the biggest risks with homebirths.
"If you are in a hospital where you have access to facilities you are much better equipped to deal with the situation if things do go wrong.”
Private midwife Sonya Beutel said midwives were well equipped during a homebirth.
"When we go to a birth we take oxygen, suction devices, equipment for suturing, an IV cannula and fluids, anti-hemorrhage drugs, urinary catheters, vitamin K for the baby - the women have access to all same things as they would in hospital.
"We are always reassessing and re-evaluating and on the lookout for a problem and as soon as we find one, we move.”
Ms Beutel said she would not deliver a breech baby at home.
Dr Doolan said hospitals did their best to provide a positive birth experience.
"There is certainly a significant minority who feel that delivering in the hospital detracts from their experience of birth,” he said.
"My feeling is that modern obstetric units do their best to put the mum at the centre.”
Director of nursing rural - southern, Matthew Boyd said doctors and maternity staff shared case notes on all maternity patients at a weekly meeting.
"This allows all the maternity staff to be across each woman's case and history on any presentation,” he said.
"There is a good chance that the women and their families will have met the maternity team before they present in labour.”
Dr Doolan said homebirths could create extra pressure for staff if the mother needed to present to hospital.
"If an emergency arrives on your doorstep that you have had nothing to do with, it does put the medical staff under a lot more pressure.”