pregnancy

After successfully delivering twins, midwife Martina was suspended. Now mums are fuming.

Melbourne mum Brooke 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.

Ten Moons’ Facebook post announcing the arrival of her twins went viral with pictures of Brooke beaming as she holds her tiny newborns.

The post said after she birthed a little boy in the water everyone was expecting the arrival of the placenta, but out came another boy. The twins were identical, born early at 35 weeks and weighing 2350g and 2200g.

The post was then amended to say an ambulance was immediately called and mum and babies were transferred to hospital, because one of them was experiencing respiratory difficulties.

The post had 15,000 likes, 1700 comments and was widely shared.

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.

AHPRA investigators went to Tens Moons office and requested all medical files, computers and mobile phones.

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.

A spokesperson for AHPRA said Martina’s registration as a midwife was suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) on November 8, which is an interim decision while further inquiries are undertaken.

“The NMBA’s role is to keep the public safe and ensure practitioners are meeting the trust the public places in them,” they said.

“The NMBA supports women’s choices by setting evidence-based standards, codes and guidelines for midwives to manage risk and ensure the safest possible healthcare for women and their babies in any setting, including home births.”

home birth Australia Martina twins
Just some of the women who protested Martina's suspension. Image: Supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT

The percentage of notifications received by AHPRA and the NMBA relating to privately practising midwives is about 3.5 per cent of total privately practising midwives, which is in line with other privately practising regulated health practitioners such as, medical practitioners and dental practitioners.

"Immediate action to suspend a practitioner’s registration is only taken in the most serious cases when the NMBA believes it is necessary to take action to protect the public,” the spokesperson said.

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.

“Professor Hannah Dahlen and her team have alarming research showing that free birth rates are climbing, because women want midwives but can’t find them to attend,” she said.

“When pregnant women, who feel strongly about their choices, feel pressured to submit to unwanted testing they don’t magically comply, they tend to withdraw from that care altogether.”

Martina has a background working as an intensive care nurse before turning to midwifery. After witnessing the interventions in mainstream maternity care, she left the public system and started Ten Moons in 2013 to offer women centred, personalised midwifery care, respecting the rights and choices of pregnant women.

Ten Moons website states her ICU training equips her with the skills to promptly recognise important clinical signs and symptoms of illness that need urgent referral and treatment.

ADVERTISEMENT

A petition, entitled “Australian mothers have the right to a safe natural birth of their choice. Save Martina”, which has almost 37,000 signatures, says: “Tonight a hundred women in Melbourne are crying over their babies, grateful they are already born. But a dozen women are crying over their belly babies, asking, 'what will we do now the midwife of our choice is suspended.'"

Mums and non-mums answer questions about childbirth. It was definitely an educational experience for some.

Video by MMC

Ms Sweeney said it was not uncommon for home birth midwives to face investigation.

“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.

“No one should ever force a woman to make a decision about any tests or treatment she was not comfortable with," she said.

"The sad reality is more than half the private midwives in NSW have been reported and some of them several times. Sometimes for the most ridiculous reasons. There are a lot of vexatious reasons why midwives are being reported.

"A lot of women who have chosen home birth because they are wanting to avoid the practices of mainstream services,” she said.

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.

Martina was not available for comment.

What are you thoughts on home births? Let us know in a comment below.

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???