How a successful home birth got an Australian midwife suspended.

Melbourne mum Brooke King got the surprise of her life recently when she gave birth to twins at home. However, after being transferred to hospital her home birth midwife has now been suspended for delivering the twins, which is against regulations.

Brooke declined routine scans throughout her pregnancy, so neither she, nor her midwife, Martina Gorner from Ten Moons Personal Midwifery Care, knew she was expecting twins.

Although mum and babies were all very happy and healthy, hospital staff reported Martina to Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) because midwives are not allowed to deliver twins at home.

Following a hearing last Thursday by AHPRA, which saw supporters, including the mum herself, rally outside, Martina has been suspended until they conclude investigations, which could take months or even years.

Homebirth Australia coordinator, Grace Sweeney, said AHPRA are very antagonistic towards privately practising midwives and if women are unable to make informed choices in birth, they will free birth.

“Almost half of Australia’s privately practising midwives have been reported to AHPRA and the vast majority of notifications come from hospital staff not their clients. AHPRA and NMBA and most hospitals continue to struggle to understand that birthing women retain the rights to make choices in relation to their own care, even where those choices fall outside the guidelines,” Ms Sweeney said.

Professor of Midwifery at Western Sydney University, Hannah Dahlen, said she was not aware of the specific circumstances around Martina’s suspension.

However, she said women have the right to decline an ultrasound and that it can be very tricky to determine a woman is having twins, particularly if it is her first baby. Before routine ultrasounds, midwives and doctors were regularly caught out by surprise twins.

Professor Dahlen said women will continue to birth at home and that despite the deadline of December 31 next year approaching and no insurance product still being on the table for home birth midwives, women have clearly said they will continue to birth at home.

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