Big push for midwives to be covered

FEDERAL Page MP Janelle Saffin would like to see home births and other midwifery services covered by Medicare.

Ms Saffin has made a submission to the Federal Government's maternity services review, announced by the Health Minister Nicola Roxon in May.

“We have psychiatrists, dieticians and other ancillary medical services that can be provided through Medicare, and I think it should be extended to include midwives,” she said.

Ms Saffin said about 60 births took place in our region each year without the support of midwives or any other medical support. It was a practice known as 'free birthing' and Ms Saffin said some women chose it as an option because hiring a midwife was cost prohibitive.

She also said she was aware of some women choosing to use their baby bonus payment to pay for midwife-supervised home births.

“Having babies has generally been seen as something we do in hospitals. Historically, midwives haven't been seen as part of the medical process,” she said.

Ms Saffin said NSW had a very high rate of Caesarean births and for many people there would be a 'fear factor' associated with having a home birth. But she believed it should be one of the options available to expectant mothers.

The Federal Government's review will cover a wide range of areas relevant to maternity services, including birthing, postnatal care, as well as care for parents who have lost babies.

The review is due to conclude later this year and anyone wanting to make a submission should contact Ms Saffin's office.

The Federal Government has also announced a new 24-hour toll free helpline to support breastfeeding mothers.

Ms Saffin said the Australian Breastfeeding Association was already receiving more than 1200 calls a week, and the funding upgrade would now allow them to operate the service around the clock.

She said it was the early hours of the morning when new mothers often needed help.

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