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Byron Shire
February 6, 2023

Home birth a growth industry

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Laura and three week old Tallulah with birth helpers midwife Debra Hayhoe and Dr James Nicholson and Tallulah’s family Kylan, dad Graham and Amadeus.

Story & photo Eve Jeffery

Dr James Nicholson says he is a dinosaur. He says he and his ilk are a dying breed and he can see imminent extinction, possibly within the next ten years.

But as one of less than a handful of GP/obstetricians in the area, it seems you can teach an old doctor new tricks – Dr James recently attended his first home birth in an official capacity.

James and midwife Debra Hayhoe recently worked as a team to help welcome baby Tallulah to the world. Tallulah’s mother Laura had a water birth in the family’s kitchen.

Laura says that she had always wanted a home birth but the cost was prohibitive.

She had birthed her second child Kylan at the Mullumbimby birthing unit three and a half years ago and was very pleased that the unit now had the option of home birth available.

Low risk facility

The unit is a low risk facility and the criteria for having a baby at home through the centre are the same as those for having a baby within the centre.

The equipment needed for a home birth through the service is the same as a birthing unit delivery and is easily available out of the hospital confines.

Both James and Debra agree that attitudes toward home birth have changed, and are still changing and it is seen as a more ‘normal’ and usual experience that it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Debra says that she feels women need, and through the service are receiving, more options in the way in which they deliver their babies.

The problem arising now is that with so few staff, the centre is having to turn away women and it is hoped that the access to more midwives will increase the annual delivery rate through the facility.

The Northern Rivers Branch of Maternity Coalition and the Mullumbimby Birth Centre are hosting a film screening of Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives at 1.30pm on Sunday May 5 at Mullumbimby Civic Centre. All are welcome.


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