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  • Canberra home birth trial delivers its first baby

    Author: Karen Keast

Little Ari Cvjeticanin is the first baby to be born through Canberra’s publicly-funded home birth trial.

The baby boy, weighing in at four kilograms, was born in parents Ella Kurz and Relja Cvjeticanin’s home on January 21, with the assistance of two midwives from the Canberra Midwifery Program at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

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Professor of Midwifery Deborah Davis, who holds a joint appointment with the University of Canberra and ACT Health, said Ari arrived safely, without complications.

“We were all thrilled to bits - he’s a big bonnie boy which is great,” she said.

“The couple were delighted and I think the midwives were really happy with how everything went. It was very successful.”


The ACT Health three-year home birth trial, which opened in October 2016 for applications, will provide one to two home births a month, or up to 24 a year, for low-risk pregnant women who live within a 30 minute radius of Centenary Hospital.

Under the model, two midwives will be present at each birth and work closely with a team of midwives, obstetricians and neonatologists.

“The service is an extension from our existing continuity program and they have been supporting women to give birth in the birth centre for a long time, so it’s the same model of care but the place of birth is different,” Professor Davis said.

“The midwives, as usual, are on-call for the women, and when a woman rings up in labour, the midwife goes to her home when she needs the midwife’s attention.

“We have a second midwife who comes in when the labour is well established, well towards the end, so that there are two qualified midwives at the birth.

“Our process is that they leave some equipment at the home in advance of the birth in those last weeks, so everything is there and ready to go.

“We have really good established processes of communicating with the service back at the hospital, so that they know what is happening, and they know when the midwives are there and they know when the midwives have left.”

Professor Davis said the home birth service gives Canberra women another choice.

She said the program has received positive support from the community, and about 10 women are now booked in to birth in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

Midwives have also welcomed the trial, with about 10 midwives from the program’s existing pool of continuity of care midwives coming on board for the initiative.

“We had an expression of interest process before the program started, and we did a lot of work with the midwives to ensure that they had everything they needed to be able to provide care in this sort of environment in terms of education and skills and experience,” Professor Davis said.

“Quite a large number of midwives came forward and said - I’m really keen to be involved, which was fantastic.

“We had a minimum number of midwives that we thought would make the service viable, which we thought would be about six, and it’s well exceeded that.”

Professor Davis said the home birth trial provides midwives with “an opportunity to blossom and to use all of their skills in midwifery”.

“I would just encourage midwives to have a go at it if they’re at all interested. A lot of us watch that lovely program, Call the Midwife, and it almost kind of harks back to their time where you’re part of the community and part of a woman’s family almost - you come into their home and you make them a cup of tea or make yourself a cup of tea - it creates a different relationship.

“I think it’s much more intimate when you are in their home and being their midwife and being around their mum and their other supporters in that environment, I think it’s a lovely thing for midwives.”


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords