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Keywords:

  • home childbirth;
  • maternity hospitals;
  • parturition;
  • pregnancy;
  • term birth

Background:  The St. George Homebirth Program was the first publicly funded homebirth model of care set up in New South Wales. This program provides access to selected women at low obstetric risk the option of having their babies at home. There are only four other publicly funded homebirth programs operating in Australia.

Aims:  To report the outcomes of the first 100 women booked at the St. George Homebirth Program.

Methods:  A prospective descriptive study was undertaken. Data were collected on the first 100 women who gave birth between November 2005 and March 2009. Two databases were accessed and missing data were followed up by review of the relevant charts.

Results:  Of the first 100 booked women, 63 achieved a homebirth, 30 were transferred to hospital or independent midwifery care in the antenatal period and seven were transferred intrapartum. Two women were transferred to hospital in the early postnatal period, one for a postpartum haemorrhage and one for hypotension. One baby suffered mild respiratory distress, was treated in the emergency department and was discharged home within four hours.

Conclusion:  The St. George Hospital homebirth program has provided reassuring outcomes for the first 100 women it has cared for over the past four years. Wider availability of this service could be achieved provided there is the appropriate close collaboration between providers and effective processes for consultation, referral and transfer. The outcomes of women and babies in publicly funded homebirth programs deserve further study, and the development of a national prospective database of all planned homebirths would contribute to this knowledge.