Peace and calm are not words traditionally associated with birth – but that’s exactly how Christie Ciantar described her experience with Westmead Hospital’s homebirth service.
“I am a creature of comfort, so to know that I was in my own home made the experience even more magical,” third-time mother Christie said.
“I felt very out of control when I was giving birth to my second child. We ran around, trying to make it to the hospital on time and my daughter was not waiting.
This experience was a lot calmer and a lot more peaceful.”
The Publicly Funded Homebirth Service (PFHS) provided through Westmead Hospital is an extension to the existing Midwifery Caseload Practice. It provides one-on-one support with the same midwife throughout a woman’s pregnancy, birth, and early postnatal period.
Westmead Hospital midwife Olivia Becker reflected it is always a privilege to be welcomed into such a magical time.
“The home birth service continues to be a career highlight for me,” Olivia said.
“Since the service became available in June last year, we have had about 16 women have home births in western Sydney, each of them being special in their own way.
“Having a home birth allows women to be in a familiar place of comfort and control, surrounded and supported by loved ones. This is a great way for women to have a safe, professionally-monitored home birth experience.”
Christie said her home birth experience was made greater by the support and comfort she was given by her family and midwife Olivia.
“My husband Scott has been there for all my births but I felt he was more actively involved with the at-home process,” Christie said.
“He felt present in the experience rather than a bystander and he also helped the kids become involved in welcoming their brother into the world.
“We had meditation sessions, affirmations playing and candles lit – I felt very safe and supported.”
Christie and Scott didn’t want their children to be scared of birth, choosing instead to prepare and involve baby Jude’s older siblings Poppy and Hunter in the process – including helping fill the bath and cheering mum on in the final moments.
“Birth is not something we should hide from, we don’t want our children to be scared to witness or talk about what the body does naturally,” Christie said.
To be eligible for the PFHS, women must be healthy, in a low-risk pregnancy, live in the Westmead Hospital catchment area (the Hills, Cumberland and Parramatta Council areas) and enrolled into Westmead Hospital’s Midwifery Caseload Practice Service.
Access to the service is free, and enquiries are essential.