Expectant mothers on the Sunshine Coast will soon have the option to give birth at home thanks to a new service delivered by Queensland Health.
The Sunshine Coast Health and Hospital Service will be the first in Queensland to offer publicly funded home births from mid-2024.
An initial $1.2 million has been allocated to launch the service.
The move comes after years of advocates calling for more birthing options for expectant mothers, and brings Queensland into line with every other state besides Tasmania in offering publicly funded home births.
Currently, Queensland women can choose to birth at home through privately practicing midwives.
In a commitment to providing women with more choice and access to a range of safe maternity models, this will be expanded to Queensland Health midwives employed under a Midwifery Group Practice Model on the Sunshine Coast.
As part of this new service, Queensland Health midwives on the Sunshine Coast will provide evidence-based care to women who have opted for a home birth and who have a low-risk pregnancy.
To determine whether Publicly Funded Homebirth is a suitable and safe option for the woman and her baby, a number of criteria will be considered, including:
The health needs of both the mother and her baby
That the pregnancy must involve only one baby, not twins or triplets
That the pregnancy must have reached full term
The home environment being assessed as safe and suitable for a home birth
The home environment is within a safe travel distance to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital in case of an emergency.
Queensland Health will assess the outcomes of the service by evaluating various factors, including safety, quality, benefits to women, consumer interest, consumer feedback and sustainability.
This comprehensive evaluation will guide future planning and decision-making including considering the viability of the service in other parts of the state.
There were 320 home births in Queensland last year.