Home birth

Section menu
Home birth
A mother holding her newborn son after giving birth at home

We now offer a publicly funded Homebirth Program through the Caseload Model of Care for women that meet the eligibility criteria.

If you’re in good health, your pregnancy is going smoothly, and you’re thinking about having your baby in a location close to the Women’s, homebirth may be an option for you. 

One main midwife, along with backup midwives, will care for you during your pregnancy, labour, birth, and after your baby is born.

We have a limited number of homebirth spots each month. If you are interested in birthing at home, speak with your caseload midwife.

Why choose homebirth?

People choose to have their baby at home for many reasons, including:

  • they want privacy and choice over who is present before, during and after the birth
  • they prefer to give birth in comfortable and familiar surroundings, where they feel more relaxed and at ease
  • they want to involve family and friends and to stay together afterwards
  • they want a birthing process that reflects their personal choices and preferences. 
Is a planned homebirth safe?

Yes. Studies show that for people with low-risk pregnancies, who meet specific eligibility criteria, giving birth at home under the care of a midwife is as safe as giving birth in the hospital. 

Risks of homebirth

It's important to understand that all births, no matter where they happen, come with some level of risk. However, with a homebirth there are some extra factors to consider.

In the unlikely event of an emergency, you won't have immediate access to the advanced equipment and expertise found in a hospital.

If there's a need to transfer you or your baby to hospital, factors like traffic, road conditions and potential ambulance delays could affect how quickly you get medical help. This delay could have a negative impact on the wellbeing of you or your baby.

For more information about risks and benefits of a planned homebirth, please visit the Better Health Channel. 

Is homebirth an option for me?

A homebirth through the Women's may be a safe option for you if the following apply:

  • You're having Caseload care at the Women's.
  • The location for the homebirth is within a 20-minute drive to the Women's in Parkville.
  • Your home has clean running water, lighting and electricity, and can be kept at a comfortable temperature.
  • You have access to a working telephone, either landline or a mobile.
  • You were aged 40 or younger when you became pregnant.
  • You're expecting just 1 baby.
  • You're not given birth to more than 4 babies previously.
  • You maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
  • You haven't had a previous caesarean section or surgery on your uterus (womb).
  • Both you and the baby are in good health, and there are no medical concerns that would make a homebirth unsafe.
  • Previous births have been straightforward with no unexpected problems or complications.
  • You attend your regular pregnancy check-ups and have completed the required tests and scans.
  • Your labour begins after 37 weeks and before 41 weeks and 6 days.
  • Your baby is head down before labour starts.
  • You have someone who can stay with you and care for you and your baby for the first 24 hours.
  • You have plans in place for the care of pets and other children in case you need to go to hospital.
  • You're aware of the risks associated with homebirth and have signed a Homebirth Consent form. 
I think I'm eligible for a homebirth at the Women's, so what happens next?

We have a limited number of homebirth spots each month, so if you're interested in a homebirth, talk with your Caseload midwife.

Together, you'll go over the eligibility criteria to make sure it's a safe option for you and your baby.

The midwife will also let you know if there's space available for your due date.

A final decision about homebirth won't be made until the 35th to 36th week of your pregnancy. At this point:

  • An obsetrician will make sure that both you and your baby are still at low risk for any complications.
  • Your midwife will visit your home to check it's suitable for homebirth. This includes looking at the space, emergency access, and overall safety.
  • The homebirth team will also confirm there's availability for a homebirth at your due date.

It's important to know that sometimes, plans for homebirth might need to change in the last weeks of pregnancy.

If complications develop, or your pregnancy goes beyond 41 weeks and 6 days, your midwife will continue to care for you during labour and birth, but in the hospital, not your home.

If you'd like more certainty about homebirth earlier in your pregnancy, you may wish to seek another care provider. Speak with your Caseload midwife about your options. 

What happens during labour?

When you go into labour, your midwife will speak with you over the phone and decide on the right time to come to your home.

If you want to use your bath or birthing pool, discuss this with your midwife. They can guide you on the ideal time to get into the water and share important safety information.

As you get closer to giving birth, a second midwife will arrive. Together, the midwives will support and encourage you during labour and monitor your progress. They'll share updates with the hospital team regularly.

You won't have access to medical pain relief at home. We encourage you to talk with your midwife about ways to manage your pain. 

Unexpected transfer to hospital

If you or your baby require extra medical help, our midwives will talk with you and the hospital team at Parkville. Together we'll decide if it's safe to continue your care at home, of if it's best to transfer you to the hospital.

Reasons for transferring you might include:

  • Your labour isn't moving along as expected.
  • There are concerns about the wellbeing of you or your baby.
  • You want pain relief, such as an epidural. If you'd like to learn more, read our fact sheet on Epidural Information.

If there's an unexpected problem, our midwives are experienced in providing emergency care. They have the right equipment and medicine to respond.

Our home birth program is supported by Ambulance Victoria.

What happens after birth?

After your baby is born, a midwife will stay with you for about 4-6 hours to make sure you and your baby are doing well.

If you'd like to keep the placenta, please speak to your midwife about your wishes.

The day after birth, your midwife will visit you at home to check on you and your baby.

You'll need to bring your baby into hospital for vaccinations and a hearing test. This is usually within 1-2 weeks after birth.

Your midwife will discuss this with you and arrange an appropriate time. 

Associated costs

The Women's homebirth program is paid for by the government through Medicare. You'll have access to physiotherapy, breastfeeding support, medical back up and other support available at the Women's without having to pay extra.

If you don't qualify for Medicare you'll have to pay for your care. The cost will depend on the treatments you need and whether you have an Australian Health Insurance Policy or coverage from an overseas health insurance fund.

We also recommend you have ambulance cover with Ambulance Victoria, as the costs for an emergency transfer to hospital can be high. You can find out about becoming a member by visiting their website: Ambulance Victoria.

If you're interested in using a birthing pool or a TENS* machine, you'll need to organise to hire and pay for these items.

NOTE: *TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a form of pain relief. Talk with your midwife and to find out more, see: Managing Pain in labour.