HOME DELIVERY: Donna Argus with 11-week-old Jovie, born at home.
HOME DELIVERY: Donna Argus with 11-week-old Jovie, born at home. Alina Rylko

Homebirth ‘only option’ until M’bah birthing service returns

WHILE the news of Murwillumbah Hospital's birthing service re-opening is being hailed as a win by the community, some expectant mothers are left without a local hospital to give birth in until October.

Women from as far as Uki, Chillingham, Stokers Siding and Limpinwood will have to drive up to an hour to get to Tweed or, as Donna Argus of Murwillumbah did, opt for a homebirth.

Mrs Argus said she found out about the baby ward's closure from her Tweed Valley Birthing Service midwife just two weeks before the due date of her third baby.

"I was due 11 days from the rally," she said. "The more I processed it, the more I feared the birth. All of a sudden I had all this worry and anxiety that I had to birth at Tweed (Hospital)."

Mrs Argus had her first two daughters, Ellie and Ayla, at Tweed in 2006 and 2008.

While these were positive experiences, this time she was racked with nerves because her 27-year-old husband had just been diagnosed with fourth stage melanoma, and was not likely to live to see the birth.

"I really needed that support that the Murwillumbah midwives had time to give," she said.

With only days to go, the couple decided to leave the public system and pay several thousand dollars for a home birth - a decision which Mrs Argus said relieved the family of a great deal of stress.

It was a successful birth with no intervention - six midwife visits prior to labour, and daily visits following the birth of Jovie 11 weeks ago.

But the stigma surrounding homebirth and its assumed health risks meant Mrs Argus kept it all a secret until after Jovie was born.

"I wouldn't tell anyone to have a home birth - it depends on if it's your first, or if you're low risk. It's not for everyone."

As a Southern Cross University midwifery student, she fears for mums-to-be uncertain about their birth plans and is urging them to get educated on their options.



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