ACT government's home birth trial deemed a success

NEW ARRIVAL:  Mistin and Juan with their children Caleb, 2, Gabriel, 5, Eden, 3, and Adelynn Rose Joy, 3 months. The family was part of the home birth trial. Photo: Jamila Toderas
NEW ARRIVAL: Mistin and Juan with their children Caleb, 2, Gabriel, 5, Eden, 3, and Adelynn Rose Joy, 3 months. The family was part of the home birth trial. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Despite just six babies being delivered during the ACT government’s home birth trial so far the program is being described as a success.

The decision to homebirth didn't come easily for Mistin and Juan Arambula, but for the birth of their fourth child they decided they'd give it a go.

Once the research was done and the decision was made, they were confident and excited to bring a bundle of joy into the world in their own home. 

But the due date came and went. The cut off for a home birth is 42 weeks, and as the days ticked by Mr and Mrs Arambula waited with baited breath.

At 41 weeks and 6 days, Mrs Arambula went into labour. It was a long, "plodding" labour that lasted 24 hours. At 2am on June 18, 2017, Adelynn Rose Joy was born on her parent's bed - protected by plenty of drop sheets.

Adelynn was the third baby out of six to be born at home as part of the ACT's home birthing trial.

While there has been fewer births than expected, the first year of the trial, which started in October 2016, is being lauded a success.

Centenary Hospital for Women and Children director of nursing and midwifery Penny Maher said the lower numbers were due to a number of things, including what critics have previously described as a "restrictive" criteria.

"It is probably a reflection of our criteria, but it isn't everyone's cup of tea, having a home birth," Ms Maher said. She said there would be a mid-way review of the three year trial in 2018.

Ms Maher said of the stories she's heard the mothers have been grateful to go into labour at home and not have to travel to the hospital for the birth.

That was certainly the case for Mrs and Mr Arambula and baby Adelynn.

Mr Arambula said his wife was happy at home during labour, going for walks and eventually settling in to the bedroom with low lights and music. 

Mrs Arambula said she was grateful to have the opportunity to home birth. 

"It's a wonderful option to have, and we haven't had that before. I am very grateful we were able to get a spot in the trial."

The trial will go for two years.