Hunter becomes home-birth capital

HOME DELIVERED: Vanessa Teunissen with five-day-old Finley who was born at home in Eleebana. Picture: Marina Neil

HOME DELIVERED: Vanessa Teunissen with five-day-old Finley who was born at home in Eleebana. Picture: Marina Neil

Vanessa Teunissen, 32, gave birth to baby Finley in her bathroom at home on the last Saturday of April. She is one of an increasing number of Hunter women choosing to birth at home.

Figures revealed in the 2016 Mothers and Babies Report recorded 72 planned home-births in 2014 in the Hunter and New England, giving the region the highest number of home-births in NSW. Across the state 228 babies were born at home. 

Ms Teunissen, a midwife herself, had an unplanned home-birth with her first child Lacey after a very short labour. She said that experience gave her the confidence to choose a home-birth for her second child.

At about 11pm on April 30, Ms Tuenissen’s waters broke. Just 30 minutes later with two midwives and husband Dane O’Hearn at her side, Finley was born without any complication.

“As soon as my waters broke that was it, I was pushing,” she said.

Mr O’Hearn caught Finley as he was being born and by 2am the family was back in bed sleeping with their new bub. 

“We were all done, we had eaten, had a cuppa and were snuggled back in bed,” Ms Tuenissen said.

“It was very calming and lovely to be at home.”

Mr O’Hearn said he had been a little reluctant about the home-birth, but it went so well that he would now encourage others to consider it.

“It’s a luxury to have a baby in your own home...it’s a lot easier,” he said.

Ms Teunissen was cared for by Belmont Midwifery Group Practice.  It offers publicly funded homebirth as an option to healthy women. 

Jenny Bonnette was midwife for both Ms Teunissen’s homebirths and said it was a safe option.

“Low-risk, healthy women should be kept out of hospital,” Ms Bonnette said.

“They have more chance of having a normal, healthy birth if they are with practice midwives.”

There are 10 midwives at Belmont on call around the clock. Each pregnant woman is assigned a midwife, and a back-up midwife, who visits her throughout the pregnancy, attends the birth and delivers post-natal care.

“Women have their own midwife and they can choose to birth at Belmont (birthing suite) or they can choose to birth at home,” Ms Bonnette said. 

“We tell them they don’t have to decide on a home-birth now, they can decide any time during the pregnancy, you can decide in labour.

“They start labouring at home, they are comfortable at home and then they decide they don’t want to get in the car... we just go to them.”