Homebirth, freebirth and doulas: casualty and consequences of a broken maternity system

Women Birth. 2011 Mar;24(1):47-50. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2010.11.002. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


In Australia private homebirth remains unfunded and uninsured and publicly funded homebirth models are not widely available. Doulas are increasingly hired by women for support during childbirth and freebirth (birth intentionally unattended by a health professional) appears to be on the rise. The recently released Improving Maternity Services in Australia--The Report of the Maternity Services Review (MSR) exclude homebirth from the funding and insurance reforms proposed. Drawing on recent research we argue that homebirth has become a casualty of a broken maternity system. The recent rise in the numbers of women employing doulas and choosing to birth at home unattended by any health professional, we argue, is in part a consequence of not adequately meeting the needs of women for continuity of midwifery care and non-medicalised birthing options.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Australia
  • Choice Behavior
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods*
  • Doulas*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Home Childbirth / adverse effects
  • Home Childbirth / methods*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / economics*
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Midwifery
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Workforce