What Are The Benefits Of Home Birth?

When so many women give birth in hospitals, you might wonder what are the benefits of home birth over hospital care? 

As the name suggests, a home birth is one that’s planned to happen in your home environment. 

Every year, around 1000 women in Australia choose to give birth in their home rather than a hospital or birth centre.

If your pregnancy is low risk and a home birth sounds like something you’d like, you can choose to hire a private midwife, or access a public funded home birth program through your local public hospital. 

Private midwives work for themselves and this option costs more than a funded home birth through the public system which is mostly covered by Medicare. 

There are more criteria to meet with a public funded home birth and being risked out at any stage due to changes in your health or being overdue is possible. 

Affording private midwives is often an obstacle for many women who want a home birth on their terms. 

There’s a number of ways you can make this happen, such as part payment plans, asking friends and family to donate towards your birth instead of buying gifts for baby showers … even selling that unused cross trainer in the garage. 

Why have a home birth?

Research shows more and more women are choosing to give birth at home to avoid the medicalised hospital environment and the risks of unnecessary interventions. 

Many women look to home birth after having a previous traumatic birth experience. They want the care providers of their choosing and to have one to one or continuity of care throughout pregnancy, birth and into the postnatal time. 

What are the benefits of home birth?

#1: Familiar environment and people 

Where you give birth, and who cares for you during that time, has a massive impact on the way you give birth. 

Choosing to birth in the familiar, comfortable space you live in ensures you have the privacy and support that allows your body to labour efficiently and without being disturbed.

You also choose your care providers when you hire private midwives. This allows you to build a mutually trusting relationship, one that honours your rights to birth how you wish. 

In a public funded program, you’ll have the same midwives for pregnancy and birth care, harnessing the benefits of continuity of care. 

A home birth means you can have your partner with you all the time, a doula or even choose to include your other children, family or friends in the birth of your child. 

#2: Having control over your choices

Many women choose to have a second or subsequent baby at home because they’ve had a previous birth experience that resulted in trauma. Most often, they describe their birth as being out of their control, having to conform to what their care providers expected. 

Sadly, the mainstream maternity system can’t provide the same emotional care that one to one midwifery care does. In all aspects of your pregnancy and birth care, the birthing woman is the key decision maker and her wishes are respected. 

Home birth midwives are highly experienced and trained health professionals who are able to inform you of the risks and benefits of your choices and support you to make the best decisions for you and your baby. 

You are free to move, eat and drink how you wish. There’s no rules as where you need to be to labour or birth – you can have a water birth if you wish and not have to worry about being told to get out. 

#3: Fewer medical interventions

More women are choosing home birth for their first babies because they want to avoid the pressure of medical interventions. Often these interventions are based around time, when the baby should be born, how long a woman should be in labour for. Rhea Dempsey, author of Birth With Confidence, estimates up to 97% of women who give birth in hospital will have some form of intervention during labour. 

Interventions include:

  • Induction of labor (including membrane sweeps, artificially breaking the sac, to medical induction methods)
  • Vaginal examinations
  • Continuous fetal monitoring
  • Epidural
  • Forceps or vacuum birth 
  • C-section.

Often, one intervention leads to another. This is called the cascade of interventions. All interventions have risks to both mothers and babies and even the milder interventions can increase the risk of having a surgical birth. 

One of the benefits of home birth is there’s no pressure to go into labor. Instead of hurrying baby out, the expectant mother is supported to allow her baby time to come when ready. There is less watching of the clock during labour and more focus on providing the right environment so mothers can labour efficiently and birth their babies. 

Research shows women who plan to birth at home experience fewer interventions and more positive birth outcomes. There is also very good evidence to show planned home birth is as safe as hospital birth for low risk women 

#4: Staying together after birth

One of the biggest challenges many women face after giving birth is their partner having to leave at some point. Or having to advocate for delayed cord clamping and having baby stay with you for skin to skin and the early breastfeed.

At home, this is just not an issue. Your midwives will observe you and your baby from the moment of birth until usually around two hours afterwards. They will ensure baby stays with you, supporting skin to skin and waiting for the placenta to arrive wherever you feel most comfortable. 

Your partner can be as intimately involved in the birth of their child as they wish, and afterwards be encouraged to do whatever feels right for you both. Your older children can meet their new sibling in the familiar environment of their own home, encouraging early bonding. 

#5: A more positive birth experience

Many women are told ‘at least the baby’s healthy’ as a sort of consolation for going through a traumatic, long or medicalised birth experience. It cements the idea that a woman’s experience during labour directly influences her birth and transition to motherhood. 

A woman is at her most vulnerable during labour, both physically and emotionally. Her brain needs to feel safe so her body can function naturally and birth her baby.

With the dedicated support of known midwives, you are able to ‘let go’ and let birth unfold as it will. The sense of empowerment when your baby is born is hard to surpass.

The immediate time afterwards ensures new parents feel held and supported as they enter this new phase of life with their newborn. Women who give birth at home are more likely to rest and recover well, so they’re able to cope with the demands of a new baby.

Their midwives will come to them, ensuring breastfeeding is going well and offering reassurance new mamas often need. 

More benefits of home birth

Choosing your own care provider is probably one of the key benefits of home birth. But it’s important you know whether it’s the right choice for you.

If you’re interested in having a home birth, you might like to consider Nurtured Birth’s workshop Choosing Maternity Care in Melbourne. This workshop explores the type of birth you want and how to find the right fit within the maternity system. 

Another benefit is that you can choose the support people you want. Doulas are just as beneficial at a home birth as in hospital. Doulas complement your birth support team, and provide a welcome extra pair of hands and guidance to help with whatever is needed. Please contact us if you’re interested in having a doula at your home birth. 

What Is A Doula? Benefits Of Birth And Postnatal Doulas

May was International Doula Month where birth and postpartum doulas are celebrated for the valuable support they provide to mamas, babies and families. 

Nurtured Birth came into being after founding director Sarah realised there is a gap between what today’s birth culture offers and what women need for healthy, positive birth experiences. She was drawn to offer nurturing support that encompassed not just the birthing experience, but the before and after as well. 

Doula and postpartum doula support has come a long way from being something only ‘crunchy mamas’ used. 

Many women are starting to become aware the hospital maternity system doesn’t view them as unique and special – just another one of thousands of women giving birth. After their baby has arrived, many mothers are unprepared for the shock of parenting in today’s culture. 

What is a doula?

Doulas are women who offer emotional and physical support to pregnant and birthing women. The word doula is said to come from ancient Greek, meaning “a woman who serves.” 

Around the world in different cultures, doulas may be mothers, sisters or neighbours and friends. 

Professional doulas are trained to provide non medical support throughout pregnancy, birth and in the postpartum period. 

Doulas may decide to work only within the pregnancy/birth sphere, or they may purely care for women in the time after birth. Many doulas support all aspects of the parenthood journey, and this encompasses partners and family. 

What does a doula actually do?

The main role of a doula is to provide knowledge, emotional and physical support without judgement. 

Pregnancy support

A doula will meet with expectant parents a number of times during pregnancy. These meetings help parents prepare for birth and make informed decisions. They will discuss fears about birth, birth preferences and practical techniques for labor comfort. During these meetings, doulas build a relationship of trust and support before birth. 

Labour and birth support

When labor begins, a doula may come to her at home or meet the expecting parents at their birth place. Doulas are like guides, accompanying the birthing woman and her partner, holding them up physically at times, suggesting different techniques or tips to make the journey smoother. 

Doulas don’t act on behalf of their birthing clients, but can help communicate birth preferences to medical staff and translate suggested medical interventions so parents can make informed choices. 

Emotional support

Their continuous presence during labour, encouraging and reassuring, is often the most important part of a doula’s role. Women who feel safe and supported will have a more positive birth experience, even if their birth plans needed to change. 

Postnatal support

During the postpartum period, a doula can provide new parents a soft landing space as they 

navigate this new transition. This allows new families to bond and have a supportive space to thrive. 

Postnatal doulas provide emotional support and listen as new parents process the birth experience and reassurance about looking after their newborn, particularly if there are concerns about breastfeeding and sleeping. 

They can provide practical support such as caring for baby while mama sleeps, cleaning or cooking. 

What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

It’s quite common for women to wonder if there’s a difference between doulas and midwives. After all, they both support women during pregnancy and birth. 

Midwives and doulas work in the same arena but their roles are quite different. 

A midwife is a health professional who cares for women during pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period. Most midwives work within the hospital system which doesn’t allow for the continuity of care and emotional support that is essential to the birthing experience. 

Doulas on the other hand aren’t medical professionals and don’t provide medical advice or procedures. They are employed to focus solely on offering the sort of support midwives traditionally performed. 

Do you need a doula?

It’s been said that the benefits of doulas are so positive that every birthing family should have one. 

Research has shown women who have continuous support from the same person throughout labour will be less likely to request pain relief, have an instrumental or c-section birth, and have better birth outcomes. 

There’s plenty of evidence showing doula care supports women to have more positive birth experiences, and ensures partners have valuable support too. 

Doulas are also invaluable for parents having a high risk pregnancy. While doulas can’t replace the specialised medical care needed in this situation, they can offer much needed emotional support and help expectant parents navigate how to have a positive birth regardless of the need for medical intervention. 

What does it mean to be a doula?

Those who choose the path of a doula as a profession often have a specific reason for doing so. We asked these doulas what does it mean to be a doula for them:


Being a doula means having the privilege of being invited into a birth space and witnessing the incredible primal power of a birthing woman, holding space while she travels elsewhere to bring her baby into the world. My own experience of birth was so beautiful and positive, it inspired me to support other women to seek the same quality of care.

Jennifer, Doulas of Melbourne’s East:

I don’t consider my work work. They say that if you love your job you’ll never work another day, and I don’t, although often exhausting and challenging, it’s still a labour of love. Being a Doula, being part of a family’s most intimate and transforming experience is such an honour. Being able to guide them to dig within themselves, to uncover the power that lies (often hidden) within, is my calling. Supporting as new parents traverse the path of creation, amazing. Being a Doula is the best job in the world.

Claire, A Special Delivery:

My choice to be a Doula comes from a deep desire to support women through the life changing experience of childbirth. Women thrive when they are well supported, confident in their choices and ability to birth and nurture their babies. It thrills me to see their confidence growing with small wins and achievements, in finding their innate strength as they navigate life and raising their children.

If you want a supportive and nurturing birth and postnatal experience please contact Nurtured Birth to discuss how we can support you.


Birth Trauma – Why Is Giving Birth Becoming More Traumatic?

A recent story in the media highlights how serious birth trauma is for women and prompts us to ask: Why is this normal and natural event so troubling for so many women?

Every birth is unique. For many women, it’s one of the most profound and powerful experiences they will have in their life. 

When supported to view birth as a normal process and to believe in their ability to give birth, most women will look back on the arrival of their baby as a positive one. 

But for an increasing number of women, birth is traumatic. So much so, PANDA reports 1 in 3 women view their birth as a traumatic experience. 

What is birth trauma?

First, let’s unpack what birth trauma means.

There is physical birth trauma, which relates to injury experienced at birth by either the mother or the baby.

In The Project interview, mum Kelly Hume divulges how an undiagnosed abscess after experiencing a severe tear giving birth caused her years of pain and ill health. 

Then there is emotional or psychological trauma. As this is less visible to health professionals, in the past it hasn’t been acknowledged as much as physical birth trauma. 

Today, more and more women are coming from their birth experiencing emotional trauma. This is more correctly known as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, something we normally associate with military or refugees.

How does birth cause this extreme stress disorder? 

Trauma can happen from what happens during labour and birth and how a woman feels about her experience.

She may witness or experience an event where she believes she or her baby was at risk of injury or death. But trauma can also result from feeling unheard, unsafe or helpless during the experience. 

What are the symptoms of birth trauma?

For some women, trauma doesn’t begin to interfere in their lives for weeks even months after the birth. But for many women, immediately after the birth they are numb and feel disconnected from their lives. 

The following list of symptoms of birth-related PTSD was complied from the Australian Health Direct website:

  • Repetitive memories/flashbacks that intrude into daily life
  • Nightmares 
  • Extreme distress when reminded of the trauma
  • Avoiding situations, places, people (including partner) that trigger the trauma
  • Avoiding talking or thinking about the event
  • Being unable to remember the event
  • Extreme mood swings, including heightened fight or flight response
  • Becoming detached from others
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of hopelessness, detachment, numbness
  • Anxiety and depression.

What makes a birth traumatic?

The trauma that leads to birth-related PTSD is a very individual experience. Actual physical birth injury can lead to PTSD developing after.

Often a woman is told after birth she needed interventions to give birth safely, even though the interventions led to physical trauma – like forceps or episiotomy. 

The story is then her body or baby was ‘wrong’, instead of looking at how she could’ve been better supported in pregnancy and labour to have a positive birth experience. 

There are also many factors that increase the risk of a woman experiencing birth-related trauma, such as:

  • History of sexual abuse or rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Migration trauma
  • Previous traumatic birth experience.

How does environment make an impact on birth?

Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable states a woman experiences. To birth successfully, her neocortex (thinking brain) needs to quiet down, to allow her primitive brain to take over. 

For this to happen, she needs to feel safe, supported and able to travel inwards to let her body do its work.

Mammals are designed to give birth in a way that allows labor to stop when there is a threat nearby. This an evolutionary process that hasn’t disappeared in humans simply because we no longer birth in the wild. 

Being on ‘alert’ for possible threats or danger (whether real or imagined) is detrimental to the birth process. A woman’s body makes adrenaline hormones, which interrupt the production of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for contractions. 

Our brains still need the sense of safety and privacy to allow our bodies to labour normally and positively. 

Today, 98% of women give birth in bright, noisy spaces, filled with strangers and technology in every corner. Hospitals focus on the safety of mother and baby from the medical perspective – but there’s little room for the emotional and environmental support that’s also essential to the experience. 

The sort of events that get in the way of a woman feeling safe include:

  • Not being prepared for labour being longer and more painful
  • Being unable to access the support, tools or environment you need 
  • Labour and birth not going to plan or being very different from expectations
  • Not being aware alternatives or options for care
  • Feeling out of control, having no agency in what’s happening
  • Lack of information about what is happening, especially if the baby is taken away
  • Not being listened to or supported by staff or birth support people
  • Previous birth trauma 
  • You or your baby needing interventions during labour or birth
  • Your baby suffering injury or needing medical attention after birth
  • Being afraid or very anxious about birth.

It’s very common for women to say their labour and birth was normal. But as time goes on, they’re left with a sense that something was wrong and experience confusing symptoms of trauma. 

How does a traumatic birth affect the baby?

Many women who have birth-related PTSD aren’t aware of the impact it has on their transition to motherhood for some time. Breastfeeding and bonding are very entwined processes after birth. 

Feeling disconnected or numb can lead to you feeling unsure about your ability to care for your baby. Some mothers with birth-related trauma have problems with breastfeeding, especially if stress or separation has interfered with the immediate bonding period. 

They may feel numb and disconnected from their baby, feeling as though the baby isn’t theirs, or not wanting to care for the baby because it embodies the reason they experience trauma. 

Some mothers are overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety about their baby’s health. They are hypervigilant, not allowing anyone else to care for the baby and become exhausted, unable to cope with other children or daily life. 

This can be viewed as ‘normal’ by many people, especially if she had a difficult birth or interventions such as a c-section.

But it interrupts the normal and very important bonding that takes place in the first months of life. Breastfeeding might be challenging and without support, may not be continued. 

How do you heal from birth trauma?

The first step to healing from birth-related trauma is having it recognised and acknowledged. 

It’s very difficult for women to access the appropriate support for birth-related PTSD. It’s often seen as an unfortunate part of birth, rather than caused by a birth system that is medically focused.

Be mindful many women are misdiagnosed with postnatal depression (PND) which has a different set of symptoms to postnatal PTSD. If you’re having any problems finding support, there are organisations online that may be able to help, such as PANDA and the Australasian Birth Trauma Association

Steps towards healing your traumatic birth include:

  1. Seek help or support as soon as possible. You can recover from birth trauma with the help and support of professionals and your loved ones. 
  2. Process your experience by contacting support organisations or peer to peer support groups.  Talking to someone who will validate your feelings about your experience. You may also choose to seek therapy with a counsellor who specialises in birth trauma.
  3.  Find out what you can about your experience, by obtaining your patient records. Seek the support of your doctor or midwife, or an independent support person such as a doula to help you understand the terminology and what happened during your labour. You may also need their support as you unpack the feelings you have about the event. This can also help you to make different choices about any future pregnancies. 
  4. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be the perfect mother and take time to get to know your baby. If you have a postnatal doula, you can enlist their support to promote more bonding such as skin to skin, breastfeeding. Having an experienced person nearby can ease your mind if you feel disconnected and unsure about how to care for your baby. 
  5. Acknowledge that birth is only the first step on your journey of a life-long relationship with your baby. Motherhood isn’t easy for everyone and is something many women grow into. A difficult birth can impact your relationship with your baby, but it doesn’t have to.

What about birth after trauma?

It can be frightening to think about having another baby after a traumatic birth experience. It’s important to remember no two births are the same. Whether you choose to have another baby or not is something only you and your partner can decide. 

In the process of healing from the first experience, women may come to understand they don’t want to have more babies. This can have an impact on their relationship with their partner and is something that needs professional support to work through.

Other women might discover what they want to do differently the next time, and this often revolves around choosing different birth places and care providers. 

Walking through the previous experience, safely supported by trusted people, can help you to unravel what happened and how you would plan for another birth in a different way to empower yourself. 

Nurtured Birth offers both birth and postnatal doula support. To find out more, please visit this page.

We also offer a range of workshops and classes that can help you navigate your choice of care provider and become more informed about birth. Please visit this page for more information about Nurtured Birth’s workshops.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas For New Mamas

Mother’s Day has long been an important date on our calendar.

On the second Sunday of May, many of us will spend the day celebrating our mums, special women in our lives, or even being spoiled ourselves. 

Some mums may be given flowers, cards or special handmade gifts. Others might have breakfast in bed or a special lunch with family.

However you spend the day, have you ever wondered where the tradition of honouring motherhood came from? 

Today’s celebration of Mother’s Day originated from anti war campaigns after the American Civil War ended in 1865. But it wasn’t until after World War 1 that Mother’s Day was first acknowledged in Australia. 

Janet Heyden started the tradition in 1924 after visiting a friend in Newington State Hospital and seeing the lonely aged mothers there. Janet campaigned for local schools and businesses to donate gifts to these forgotten women. 

New mothers are often excited to celebrate their first Mother’s Day. Among all the flowers, chocolates and sleep-ins, why not gift her something she really needs.

Nurtured Birth offers wonderful products and services for women any stage of motherhood.

Mother’s Day Massage Gift Voucher

Self care is hard to squeeze into a busy mama’s life at the best of times. Massage therapy offers mamas the space to take care of their own needs, to be nourished and pampered. A gift voucher for self care is a beautiful way to say thank you for all you do. 

Click here to purchase a Massage Therapy Gift Voucher. 

Breastfeeding support

For the mama planning to breastfeed, Nurtured Birth has a luxurious range of products to support her choice.

From nipple cups, a 100% eco friendly breast pump, to breast pads, we have everything a breastfeeding mama needs. 

Click on the links to go straight to our shop to purchase any of these products. 

Pregnancy pillow

Sleep is so important during pregnancy but as the baby grows, the extra weight puts pressure on a pregnant mama’s spine. This can make it hard to get enough sleep and feel well rested. 

Nurtured Birth stocks Dentons Pregnancy Pillow because it’s the best product available for supporting the back and spine. 

Click here to purchase a Dentons Pregnancy Pillow.

Happy Mother’s Day!