In case you didn’t know…

…we are planning on huffing and squeezing this little babby out here at home under the care of a private midwife of some 30 years experience who has been caring for me now for a couple of months already and will continue to do so with increasing frequency up to the birth and beyond.  The same professional every time. Taking all my details, measuring all my particulars and getting to know me, M and Babby really well all the way through the process as we get to know her too.

Our only other option was public hospital care, which I am led to believe is very good, but for me the preference was for continuity of care and the option to build a familiar and trusted relationship with my caregiver.  This is of immense importance to me.

We have no private insurance and could never afford an obstetrician.  Our midwife will cost us a couple of grand and after giving her a small deposit, she is happy to wait for us to get our Government Baby Bonus after the birth to receive the balance.

Babby is due in April 2010.

Guild Insurance has withdrawn their policies for independent midwives (they were the only insurance provider for the field) with the result that from July 2010 any midwife working outside the hospital system who would continue to practice antenatal or postnatal care or attend births would be operating outside of the law.

There has been some move for the Government to come to the rescue by providing Medicare funding and indemnity insurance but our Health Minister, Senator Nicola Roxon,  is managing to continue to put the careers of midwives in further jeopardy and once again take away the choice for affordable and experienced antenatal care and the option of home birth.

An amendment was made to Government policy in September giving midwives a 2 year stay of execution from the dreaded July 2010 ‘cease-practice-or-be-damned’ date but that only allows them to attend home births without insurance – pre or post-natal care will be illegal.  This is awkward enough, but now sneaky Senator Roxon has slipped in a new bill that proposes that while midwives WILL still be allowed to practice by attending births,  this  shall happen only under the supervision of an obstetrician.  And still no pre or post-natal care by midwives allowed.  This is referred to in the bill as ‘collaborative arrangements’.

This again means no home births and a model of continuous care only for those able to afford private health insurance or their own obstetrician.

I ask you – how could the government of a progressive, modern nation allow this to happen all for the sake of insurance monies?

Our choice of a home birth with private midwife is not only because we believe hospitalisation is for emergency or illness (touch wood all will be fine – of course I’m prepared to go if tiny sprog needs me to) but also for this valuable continuity of care.

The chance to get to know the person who will help our baby arrive with what will be extremely intimate (although gentle) intervention, over six months of care is invaluable.  Throughout this time we laugh and share and palpate and listen to the heartbeat and swoosh of the placenta as she passes on the wisdom of her considerable experience and helps us prepare for the biggest day of our lives.

Postnatally she will drop in every day, a couple of times if necessary, to assist and make sure we are feeding and managing well.  She will make herself available for three months afterwards for calls and queries and nervous new-mum visits.

She will stay with me as long as I want/need her to in labour and let it take as long as it takes,  rather than rush or induce which would likely either cause a tear or require a cut, things many people now take for granted as a necessary part of the birth process. She will coach me to slow things down to allow this all to happen naturally.

She also knows when it IS time to go to hospital.  She works there too.

All this for less than half of the Government baby bonus.

I am shocked that had it taken us a mere 3 months longer to conceive, that the option to do this in what we believe is the best and safest way for us, would be taken away.  How can the Government allow this option to be taken away from us should we choose to have a second child ?  Away from everybody?  How much does a public hospital birth cost anyway before Medicare steps in and takes care of it for me?  I bet it’s considerably more than our birth plan is costing us now.  How much money are those who choose home-birth saving the already drained public health system per year and why is this not acknowledged and supported?

Until December 11, the end of this week, the The Senate Community Affairs Committee will be accepting submissions addressing the terms of reference laid out for the inquiry into the bills put forward by Senator Roxon.  I am part way through writing mine but I just wanted to post this in case anyone else out there feels strongly enough about this, either because of their own pregnancy/birth experiences or simply because they support the right of parents-to-be to choose the model of care that suits them best without discrimination of class or income level.

The invitation for submissions is here and the terms of reference are laid out here .  There is also valuable discussion which may help you frame your submission on the Australian Natural Parenting Forum here.

I won’t be posting my submission here (legally it will invalidate it) but feel free to get angry with words yourself, just remember to address the terms of reference in order to keep it relevant (and heard).

..and thanks for sitting through this (if you are here at the end).  It’s important to me.

Back to art and bunnies soon enough.


10 thoughts on “In case you didn’t know…

  1. Thanks for that Sally, I’m fairly incensed about the issue myself – so I think I will channel my anger through my little sausage typing fingers and make a submission.

    Do you mind if I link to this blog post from my blog?


  2. Sally, This is shocking information! I’m glad you have the option of having a mid-wife. Crazy that this won’t be available to other pregnant women three months after you give birth. It makes no sense, it makes no sense, it makes no sense!!!

    1. Madness eh? This gets little press but the implications are huge.

      We haven’t got through sorting out this baby yet but if we WERE thinking about a second and this all goes through with no solution found, it would be enough to make me think again.

      For me hospital is simply not the answer unless necessary.

      I read that a coroner who attended the death of an infant after an ill-planned home birth (a great distance from hospital with no plan for transfer) wrote to Senator Roxon about the incident begging her to reconsider and do something to help retain availability of the practice, arguing that to push homebirths underground could lead to more deaths when people are too scared to go to hospital when it’s needed.

      I’m not ready to Freebirth and I can’t understand how this is happening.

  3. Hi Sally, I stumbled on Pip’s blog today, so naturally I stumbled on yours too.

    All I can say is…..WTF? Our current Federal Labor Government has a lot to answer for IMO.
    Each and every day I see them infringing further upon our rights. It’s indeed a sad state of affairs when
    you hear yourself mumbling that you really wish you could bring John Howard back.

    At some stage I will probably write my own post on this topic (if so may I link back to you?)

    To answer your question about the cost to have a baby in the public hospital….
    I don’t recall paying anything, just signing forms. (I guess they bulk bill them??)
    Of course, when I had my children (the youngest of which is only 7 yo.) I was never aware there was another medically sound alternative to hospital child birth.
    I’m just thankful that my requests for natural child birth were listened to.

    And the fact that I was unaware of these options until now, makes me both furious and sad.
    Being that I birth fast and with no problems, I feel this style of birth would have been perfect for me.
    Even in hospital none of my three births had a doctor present.
    With my last child, my husband actually assisted the mid-wife and was the first person to touch our son. (So he basically ‘delivered’ him at least that’s his story and he’s sticking to it)

    I wish you all the best with your pregnancy. I am sure I’ll be back to wish you a safe delivery as the time nears.
    Thank you for sharing your story. You’ve given me much food for thought.

  4. Hi Pirra, nice to have you dropping in.

    Thanks for your good wishes and I am thrilled that you were able to access the type of care you wanted through the public hospital system.

    Yes, I’m aware that we could have a public hospital birth and it would cost us nothing out of pocket, but it does cost the Government something, and this is the cost I wonder about.

    Public health is not free because it costs nothing, it’s free because the Gov. steps in and foots the bill. I do feel lucky to live in a country that has such a system from which I have received great benefit throughout my life, and with the odd health issue that (due to income) would have remained untreated if we did not have Medicare.

    But it is an imperfect system – of the four health providers from which I have received the most vital and life-changing support over the years, two – Naturopathy and Midwifry (outside of the hospital system), are not covered at all and two – Osteopathy and Psychology are offered in limited access by referral only.

    We all know it is a system under strain and that no pool of funding is infinite. People who help take the strain off the Medicare system by taking out private insurance are rewarded with tax breaks so I wonder why there is no reward for those who cannot afford that, yet still choose to foot the bill for their own health care on occasion (because it is the RIGHT care for a particular issue and is helping them be healthy despite not being recognised under the system.)

    Anyway – off I go ranting again when I really only wanted to say thanks for your support.

    While I really hope to get this blog back on the art track soon, I will still be posting important life updates as they happen including baby. I’m sure I won’t be able to stop myself talking about such a huge event in our lives!

    A happy festive-crazy season to you and yours,


  5. Yes, there really is no such thing as a free lunch granted.
    And when you have a Government hell bent on wasting tax payers money on things like
    a useless mandatory ISP filtering system that nobody even wants, then yes, I do share your concern about
    where the money comes from and how much does it really cost us??? (Ironically The Family First party that advocate the filter I am diametrically opposed to, are the ones who support midwifry!)

    I’m guessing there’s no tax breaks for those who pay all their medical bills out of their own pocket because well where’s the cut for the government?

    Don’t be surprised if you get a spike in blog activity, I was so incited and inspired by your post I fired off an email to all my girlfriends asking their thoughts and feelings on this with a link to your blog. The response has been amazing. And shockingly enough, very few of them were even aware that this choice was effectively being taken off the table.

    But being the busy time of year that it is, it may take me awhile to get their thoughts and mine together enough to post about it.

    Happy Silly Season to you and yours also.

  6. Hmmmm yes the clean feed… another issue that gets me and mine all hot under the collar and firing off letters to the perpetrators.

    We actually can be pretty lazy, M and I – not big complainers or letter-writers generally, but it feels our rights are being infringed upon from all directions at the present.

    I’m grateful to you for sharing the midwife issue AND for your activity on the clean feed farce as well.

    Letter-writers and citizens of good sense unite!

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