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Home birth

8-minute read

Key facts

  • It’s safest to have your baby in hospital, but a planned homebirth is considered safe for some people who are at low risk of complications.
  • Homebirth is provided by some public hospitals and private midwives, and this gives you more choice in selecting where you’d like to give birth.
  • If you’re planning a homebirth, it’s important that your midwife is appropriately qualified and has a plan in place for transferring you to hospital, if there is a problem.
  • It’s important to check that your baby is offered all the standard tests and treatments after birth.

Is homebirth an option for me?

If you and your baby are healthy and at low risk of complications, you may be offered a choice of where you give birth, depending on what options are available in your area. You might choose to give birth at home.

Some public hospitals and private midwives provide homebirth services. You can ask your midwife or doctor if this option is available to you. This gives you more choice when selecting where you would prefer to have your baby.

If you’d like to give birth at home, it’s important to talk to your midwife or doctor about the reasons for your decision. Make sure you are fully informed about what homebirth involves, and risks that can arise.

Homebirth is not the same as freebirth. Freebirth is where someone chooses to give birth at home, without care from a qualified midwife.

Why might I want to have a homebirth?

Some people choose to give birth at home because birth is a natural process.

Some people choose homebirth because they believe they’ll have more control over the birth process at home than in hospital. They may have had a difficult experience with a previous birth in hospital.

The advantages of giving birth at home include:

  • being in familiar surroundings, where you may feel more relaxed and better able to cope
  • having more privacy than in hospital
  • having your family with you and as many support people as you choose
  • being looked after by a midwife or doctor you have grown to know during your pregnancy
  • having a better chance of success with breastfeeding

The rate of having a natural birth without any intervention is higher for people planning a homebirth than for people planning to give birth in hospital. However, remember that this difference is to be expected — people planning a homebirth are all low risk, while those planning a hospital birth may be high or low risk

Is homebirth safe for me?

A planned homebirth is considered safe for some births. It may be safe for you if you meet all the following criteria:

  • Your pregnancy is low risk.
  • You’re cared for by a registered midwife who is appropriately trained.
  • There is a smooth plan in place to transfer you to hospital safely and quickly if problems arise.

However, it’s still safest to have your baby in hospital.

If there are risks or complications during your pregnancy, homebirth will not be a safe option for you and your baby.

Your doctor or midwife may recommend you give birth in hospital. For example, if you are expecting twins, if your baby is breech or you have had a previous caesarean — your midwife or doctor will explain why they think a hospital birth is safer for you and your baby.

Who will provide care for me if I have a homebirth?

If you plan to give birth at home, you should be supported by an endorsed midwife, a specialist or GP obstetrician.

To help keep you safe, 2 health professionals who are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and have appropriate skills and training must be present to care for you during labour and birth. Standard care in Australia is for 2 midwives to be present for your homebirth. Alternatively, you could have a midwife and a doctor caring for you.

Midwives caring for a homebirth must follow all the guidelines of the Australian College of Midwives and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. Doctors must have registration and insurance to provide homebirth care.

If you need any help or your labour is not progressing as well as it should, your midwife will arrange for you to be transferred to hospital. You must be prepared to go to hospital if your midwife considers it necessary.

What problems could arise if I have a home birth?

Every birth involves some degree of risk. If something goes seriously wrong and you need to be urgently transferred to hospital during your labour, it could be worse for you or your baby than if you were already in hospital with access to specialised care. If you’re at home, your access to specialist care may be delayed.

The most common emergency situations are if you lose too much blood or if your baby doesn’t breathe when they’re born.

If this is your first baby, you’re more likely to need transfer to hospital than if you’ve given birth before.

There are some disadvantages you should think about if you’re considering a home birth, such as:

What do I need to do if I am planning a homebirth? If you would like to have a homebirth, you first need to check with your local hospital or private midwifery practice to see if they provide homebirth as an option.

It’s important to:

Your midwife will check your baby when they’re born and in the first days afterwards. If you’d like your baby to be checked by a doctor, you can take them to your GP.

What questions should I ask?

You can ask your midwife anything you are unsure about. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • How long would it take if I need to be transferred to hospital?
  • Which hospital would I be transferred to and how would I get there?
  • Would a midwife be with me all the time?
  • Who can I contact when I go into labour?
  • How do I prepare my home for the birth?
  • How can I get a birthing pool?

Should I have a homebirth because of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

With the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), you might be considering changing your plans to have a homebirth instead of having your baby in a birthing centre or hospital. You might be worried about infection in hospital, or you might prefer to have more people with you for support than hospital COVID-19 restrictions allow.

It’s not a good idea to change your birth plan because of COVID-19.

Hospitals are taking extra precautions to keep both you and your baby safe during your stay. You can also keep yourself and your baby safe by being vaccinated for COVID-19.

Where can I find more information?

To find out more about home birth, visit:

You can also call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to talk to a maternal child health nurse about homebirth and to discuss whether it may be suitable for you.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

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Last reviewed: August 2022

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Need more information?

Homebirth: pregnancy care and birth | Raising Children Network

Homebirth is an option for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies who can transfer to hospital. Private midwives care for homebirthing women in pregnancy.

Read more on website

Homebirth - Better Health Channel

Having a baby at home can be an option for pregnant women who are healthy, have a low-risk pregnancy and live close to a hospital in case the birth does not go to plan.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Homebirthing in the NT | NT.GOV.AU

Homebirths in Alice Springs, Darwin and remote areas of the NT.

Read more on NT Health website

Homebirth - Canberra Health Services

Read more on ACT Health website

About doulas | Raising Children Network

Doulas support women with information and practical and emotional care during pregnancy and birth. Doulas work in homebirth and hospital settings.

Read more on website

Choosing where to give birth

Advice on choosing where to give birth, including a midwifery unit or birth centre, hospital or at home, and what to expect from private and public care.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Midwives: guide for women & families | Raising Children Network

Midwife means being ‘with woman’. Midwives care for women during pregnancy, labour and birth. They work in hospitals, birth centres and homebirths.

Read more on website

What is freebirth?

Freebirth is when you choose to have your baby without medical or midwifery assistance. This greater independence comes with some risks.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Vitamin K at birth

All babies need to have vitamin K to help the blood to clot and prevents serious bleeding.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Labour & birth: what to expect | Raising Children Network

Early labour signs include a show, waters breaking and pain. During labour, your contractions increase and your cervix dilates, so you can birth your baby.

Read more on website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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