AFTER a long campaign, women on the Northern Rivers will now be able to access publicly funded home births.
A one year pilot program offering home births will be run through Mullumbimby Hospital from April 23, 2012.
Only 12 other locations within Australia currently offer publicly funded home births.
Northern Rivers Maternity Coalition branch president, Sally Cusack said the announcement was "great news" for women in the Northern Rivers.
"Everyone is really excited and saying finally, this is fantastic news," Ms Cusack said.
Last year the maternity coalition ran a letter writing campaign calling for publicly funded home births and launched a petition which received more than 600 signatures.
The local health district undertook extensive consultation with obstetricians, gynaecologists, midwifery nurse specialists and mothers before recommending the pilot commence.
It was announced yesterday that two women a month would be accepted into the 12 month pilot program.
Northern NSW Local Health District Board chair, Hazel Bridgett said pregnant women would need to agree to safety requirements to support the home birth.
"All women considered healthy and who are assessed as being likely to have an uncomplicated pregnancy and live within 30-40 minutes of Mullumbimby, The Tweed or Lismore Base Hospitals will be eligible to participate in this home birth pilot," Ms Bridgett said.
Under the pilot, home births would only proceed if they remained low risk births. If the risks increased, the birth would not proceed within the home environment.
After 12 months the pilot program would be evaluated and the health board would decide whether to offer the service on an on-going basis.
However, Ms Cusack said she believed the pilot would reveal a high demand for home births on the Northern Rivers.
"It's a great start and I just see it going from strength to strength," Ms Cusack said.
"The benefits for women are obvious and it's such a cost effective option for the health service too."
SHOULD HOME BIRTHS BE PUBLICLY FUNDED? TELL US BELOW.