Mother-of-five Caitlin Twidale, from Chinchilla on Queensland’s Western Darling Downs, decided to free birth because she was unable to find a midwife to help her deliver at home.
A free birth is different from a home birth, in that there is no midwife or medical staff present.
Ms Twidale said she made the decision after extensive research and said it was the right decision for her family.
“We had quite a traumatic experience with my second born,” she said.
“This being my fifth child I was hoping for a water birth and a home birth and being in a rural area there was just nothing like that.
“A midwife would have been my first option but once I started looking into it I would probably choose free birth.”
Ms Twidale, who is studying to be a childbirth educator, said she undertook extensive research.
“It’s all about giving women options and it is, after all, the woman’s choice how they chose to do it and with whom and how much research they do,” she said.
“We did have access to hospitals and medical care as back-up if we needed it as well.”
Gino Pecoraro from the Australian Medical Association cautioned women against the practice and said the safest place for women to give birth was in a hospital.
“I’m afraid we do have data suggesting that women who do have their babies at home are increasing the chance of an intrapartum death or problems with the baby suffering from not getting enough oxygen,” Dr Pecoraro said.
“There is also an increased risk to mothers themselves.”
Midwives trained to respond
Liz Wilkes from Midwives Australia said midwives were trained to respond if something went wrong.
“We can see very subtle changes in birth … but if you’re birthing by yourself then the chances are that those subtle changes won’t be picked up in a period where appropriate action can be taken,” she said.
“I do agree that it is their body and they do have the right to choose and I understand that they are very well-educated women, generally speaking.
“It is a very normal life event for most people, but when it goes wrong unfortunately it can go quite badly wrong … they often don’t know what they don’t know.