Your voice matters. Your experience in choosing where to birth matters. Your responses to our survey are a step towards advocating for what birthing families want.
Have your say & help expand homebirth services nationally
We have a game-changing, short survey live now, and would love it if you could add your voice.
Please click here to tell us about your experience accessing and planning a homebirth in your area, wherever you are in Australia.
Whether you ended up choosing a planned homebirth or not, your response matters! We want to hear from anyone who has actively considered a homebirth in the past, even if you didn't ultimately choose homebirth. We're interested in exposing the limitations and barriers to homebirth, as well as any perceived shortfalls of the hospital maternity system versus homebirth.
We'll use the results to highlight the issues in our advocacy efforts, working towards more choice and more availability of homebirth for women and families in all parts of Australia. That's gotta be worth 10 minutes of your time, right?!
By telling your story through surveys like this we hope to see:
Thanks for participating, your responses are deeply valued: click here!
Claire Heenan (Media & Communications) and Kathryn Bell (Secretary & Intern supervisor)
Birth is the labour of unconditional love. It is a transformative experience for both mother and baby. It is a time when mum has to go deep into her instincts and bring her baby into the world. It is the experience of a Goddess warrior.
After birth, the mother is in a very vulnerable state. Mum’s psycho-physiological state is as delicate as her newborn’s. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is explained that after childbirth the mother's physiology is going through a natural reset process to embody her ideal health for the years to come. It is a time when she needs proper support for her healing and rejuvenation to take place.
Ayurveda is an ancient, holistic practise that has existed for more than 5,000 years. It is known as the sister practise to yoga. Yoga is the path towards self-realisation and ayurveda is the path of health and well-being. Together, these practises can bring so much love and harmony into one's life.
According to the ayurvedic medical texts by the sage Shushrut, women are in an exceptional window for the first 42 days after childbirth (extended by ten days to 14 days if there was surgery).
This window, also called the ‘Sacred Window,’ is a time where the mother's nervous system is like a flower; very delicate and sensitive to the environment. The sacred window is the time for the newborn mother to be nourished and nurtured so she can offer the most exceptional ability to love and serve her baby. It is a time for extended bonding with the baby and deep rest and rejuvenation.
Why 40 days?
"The first 40 days will impact the next 40 years to come"
Ayurveda explains that it takes around 40 days for the essence of food to become Ojas (the juncture between consciousness and matter which is enlivening and regenerative), and for all of the seven tissues to be rebuilt properly (plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow, and reproductive).
After childbirth, this is the time for the mother to rebuild her tissues and establish health and well-being for the 40 years to come.
What is mum’s Dharma?
Dharma is one’s purpose in this life; one’s mission.
The dharma of the mother is to go through labour to bring her baby into this world. After labour, it is mum’s dharma to nourish, protect, and love her baby. So in ayurveda, there is this special window to nurture mum so she can be there for her baby and serve them in abundance of love.
What is happening during the ‘Sacred Window?’
During this time, mum's digestive fire is very depleted, creating difficulty in digesting food, life, and emotions. During and after childbirth, mum's body is experiencing different sensations such as pain, inflammation, and abdominal space. From the ayurvedic perspective, these all increase the ether and air elements within the body and mind, which can lead to mum feeling unsupported, bloated, empty, anxious, and with loss of appetite.
What is happening with the hormones during this time?
Right after birth, mum is filled with oxytocin and her heart with love. She is naturally radiating a divine glow. But around the third day postpartum, when the hormones drop and the milk comes, mum can start to feel overwhelmed, tired, and anxious. During this time, proper postpartum care is essential for the mother to have appropriate support and loving care.
What are some of the practices to nourish mum?
- Abhyanga: warm oil massage over the body
- Belly binding
- Ayurvedic herbs to enhance the healing process
- Warm and nourishing foods
- Warm showers
- Sitz bath
- And much love and care
What is the benefit of Abhyanga and belly binding?
Oiling the body in Ayurveda is called snehan. In Sanskrit, the word snehan means oil as well as love. It is the practice of loving our bodies and falling back in love with the God of our hearts.
"This is a clear message of love, honor, and appreciation for your body" - Myrica Morningstar
After childbirth, vata dosha (ether and air elements) is aggravated, and it needs genuine care and attention for the mama to have balanced health and to be able to recover and cultivate her strength. The oil recommended for the mother is black sesame or bala thailam (medicated oil) to help the nourishing, cleansing, and healing process.
Belly binding is an ancient practice for postpartum mothers. It gives the newborn mother a feeling of groundedness and helps the organs come back into their proper place. Ideally, belly binding is practiced from the first day of delivery. For caesarean birth it is essential to wait so that the scar heals appropriately (4 to 5 weeks).
What is the postpartum diet?
Ayurveda has specific guidelines on mothers' postnatal diets. The food for the first three days should be peya (soupy rice) with panchakola (medicated) ghee and plenty of iron-rich sugar, low salt, and digestive spices. This food will allow mum's digestive fire to rest and reset. It will also give mum time to digest everything that happened and for her heart to fully connect with her baby.
Ayurveda recommends slowly increasing the thickness of the food and gradually adding some cooked veggies, as well as some legumes like mung beans or red lentils.
Ayurveda also recommends that the newborn mother must have warm spiced milk at night, which will help with the quality and quantity of breastmilk.
For more information on Ayurvedic postpartum recipes check out “Healing recipes to Nourish the Newborn Mother” at www.soma-shakti.com.au.
Mama’s spice milk recipe:
Bring milk to a boil three times if you have the time with spices (cardamom, clove, black pepper, saffron, black cardamom and fennel; limit cinnamon until mother’s bleeding is under control), iron-rich sugar and a teaspoon of ghee (you can use oat milk instead of cow's milk).
Food is one of the essential factors for mum to heal appropriately and for her milk supply to be consistent. A proper diet will also protect mothers from anxiety or postnatal depression. Currently, one in every seven women who give birth in Australia experiences postnatal depression. This a significant number of newborn mothers having difficulty in connecting with their babies and with themselves.
A newborn mother needs to have proper support around her. I truly believe that planning a postpartum program is as important as a birth plan. If you are a pregnant mama, take your time to connect with different doulas and find the right postnatal care for you.
Daniela Escobar is a dedicated and devoted practitioner of ayurvedic medicine and a yoga educator. She specialises in women's Health and postpartum care. She offers her services in Bondi - Sydney, and online.
For more information visit her website.
Members pay attention, Easter just got even better!
Being forced to stay at home for days on end is enough to make anyone dream longingly of entertainment for us grown-ups. Luckily we have got you covered this Easter! It’s an egg-stravaganza of new and shiny things for you to hop into! See what I did there? With the Easter puns? Egg, hop .. Ok I'll stop now.
Lockdown isn’t easy, so we decided to weave a little joy into your long weekend! Starting with our brand spanking NEW WEBSITE! Can you tell we’re excited?! Or, EGG-cited? Sorry, I did say I’d stop with the Easter puns. Now that we are a state-wide organisation, our website needed to reflect this so that we can now cater for homebirthing families all over NSW in a huge variety of ways.
For our current members, you will need to log in and create your new password through our new website. Simply check for the email from email@example.com, sent on 12th April at 3:50pmish. This email has been sent from our website and will contain a link for you to use to log in and check everything out!
Has your membership expired and you're now experiencing major FOMO? Too easy! Simply follow the link emailed to you by firstname.lastname@example.org, and use the code RENEW2020 to receive $10 off any membership option. This special deal only lasts 30 days, so don't think twice!
Now we have covered expired and current memberships, time to play! Check out all things homebirth from your local private midwives, to resources, to the AMAZING discounts our affiliate businesses are offering. What was that?! Affiliate business? Yes! Homebirth NSW now have an array of beautiful businesses who have generously offered discounts to our members. If you’d like to advertise your business as an affiliate with us, make sure you let us know so we can tell you all about our amazing online exposure! Did someone say there was a rise in online shopping during lockdowns? No? There is now. Check out all the businesses already affiliated with us below!
But we couldn’t leave it at that because we know that the best remedy for down-time at home is great reading material. Happiest of Easters to you as the latest edition of Birthings magazine is available now! For FREE! Pop the kettle on, grab a chocolate bunny and run a bath. Your free copy of Birthings issue 140 can be obtained via the members area of our new website, which you can access once logged in. As always, all the hard work that went into Birthings magazine has resulted in something special, enjoy!
Enjoy Easter and stay safe!
Claire Heenan (Communications)
WHAT WE ACHIEVED, AND WHAT WE ARE STRIVING FOR
2019 was a huge year for Homebirth NSW! As an organisation, we are always striving for increased access to homebirth in Australia. Looking back on all of our incredible achievements in the year shines a light on how we are doing this, and what we are doing to work towards this goal. Let's take a little tour of 2019 in the life of Homebirth NSW...
Most notably, we rebranded from Homebirth Access Sydney to Homebirth New South Wales, providing us with a state-wide scope for creating opportunities to support homebirth families. This change will and has involved collaboration with homebirth communities and groups beyond Sydney, allowing for our message to spread further. With a new name, comes a new website! Our new website is in the design process now, woo hoo! This is going to be particularly helpful in finding your local privately practising midwives, accessing other local birth professionals and ease of access to information on all things homebirth. Are you a birth worker? Would you like to advertise with us? Click here to find out how we can support your business!
Speaking of information, we undertook some amazing projects so as to source evidence-based research, resulting in some invaluable, publicly available stats. This research included looking at the barriers to homebirth for women and midwives, which is vital in informing the advocacy work we, and you as consumers, can do. Check out the full report here.
Advocacy is at the crux of our ethos as the Homebirth NSW committee, exemplified in our submissions to the Australian Government regarding Medicare rebates for intrapartum care provided by privately practising midwives. Our research report showed that for 70% of the women in the study, the cost of hiring a PPM was a barrier to their choice of homebirth; our work around the availability of rebates is a step towards addressing this barrier.
Another option for those facing financial barriers, is the Publicly Funded Homebirth programs. We liaised frequently with hospitals and local women's groups to push for the creation and maintenance of these programs so as to ensure homebirth is becoming more accessible to all women. Kristyn, our advocacy officer, recently sat on the committee for the newly established Publicly Funded Homebirth program at Westmead Hospital. When major hospitals undertake exemplary programs like this, our hope is that other hospitals will take note!
Another way we are supporting families with their homebirth plans is by having a new National Homebirth Register! It's got a nifty map and everything! Check it out! This map shows you the midwives who are available in your area, as well as the hospitals offering Publicly Funded Homebirth programs.
There were of course many other tasks, events and projects we worked on in 2019, but it's impossible to discuss them all in one email! Click here for the AGM 2020 minutes. Here's a picture of us having a cuppa after the AGM, there were more of us at the meeting but we forgot to get a photo with everyone, oops!
As part of our International Midwives’ Day celebration (add in date & more info) we asked women why their midwives are important to them. Their responses were beautiful. Here is just a few:
Homebirth Access Sydney along with Homebirth Australia are commencing a new project to create a national register of homebirth services. This register will include private midwifery services and hospital run homebirth programs across Australia.
Our aim is to have a searchable and free resource online to help women find homebirth services in their area. We also hope to be able to identify areas where there are no homebirth services available to meet the needs of the women who live there. This information can then be used to help with lobbying for more access to homebirth care in underserved areas.
We have taken on a student intern, Hannah Lyons-Uhl from Macquarie University, to help us with this work. She will be distributing information about the project across our social media platforms. However, if you would like more information, or to speak to someone about the project, please email us at email@example.com
To be added to the register, Private midwives who offer homebirth services can enter their details by clicking HERE.
Over the past 40 years, since 1979, Homebirth Access Sydney Inc (HAS) has been advocating for homebirthing families in the Sydney region. Our main goals throughout this time have been to provide information to homebirthing families, and to protect and maintain access to homebirth as a valid birthing option for Sydney families.
In support of this goal, HAS maintains a website full of up to date homebirth information, details of Privately Practising Midwives offering homebirth services and connections to homebirth support groups and birthworkers. To help normalise and protect homebirth, and share homebirthing information, HAS publishes Birthings magazine electronically and in print, which is full of theme articles and birth stories and provides updates on current events and the climate of homebirth in Australia. HAS regularly represents the interests of Homebirthing families in the community and up to government level, with committee members involved in consumer advocacy in our local health district hospitals, maintaining contacts with parliamentary ministers and acting as consumer representatives with Health Consumers NSW. The committee members that make up HAS, and ensure all of this is possible, are volunteers; HAS is a non-profit, community-based organisation.
At our Annual General Meeting in February 2019, members resolved to widen our geographical focus to include all of NSW. We believe that a state-wide homebirth advocacy organisation is necessary to help address the lack of homebirth services across NSW, and this change is a response to an increase in the requests for support and information in regional and rural NSW. The broadening of our geographical focus is now reflected in the resolution to change our name to Homebirth New South Wales Inc (HBNSW).
In the coming months we will be transitioning to our new name and focus, and celebrating 40 years of advocating for homebirthing families in the Sydney region! Our members recently voted on our new logo to be used going forward. Our website and contact emails will remain the same until our new website is built under our new domain: homebirthNSW.org.au.
Natural Pregnancy & Parenting Day 2020
This is a family friendly event, with food, drinks, places to sit and rest and activities for the kids. There is plenty of parking on site and public transport nearby. Please RSVP to the facebook event page in order to keep up to date with event information as the date approaches. This is going to be a great day so make sure to bring your friends and family. See you there!
There are still a few spaces left for businesses interested in having a stall or supporting the event. Please download our event booking form and get in touch with Kristyn for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the Homebirth NSW Blog!
There are various authors to our awesome Homebirth NSW blog, each article will specify the author.