Latest Australian data shows homebirth rates increased by 56% in one year. There were 863 homebirths in 2009 and 1345 in 2010.

Australia’s mothers and babies 2010 is the 20th annual report on pregnancy and childbirth in Australia providing national information on women who gave birth and the characteristics and outcomes of their babies.

In 2010, 294,814 women gave birth to 299,563 babies in Australia. The average age of mothers has increased gradually, from 29.2 years in 2001 to 30.0 years in 2010. The caesarean section rate has shown an upward trend over the last 10 years, increasing from 25.4% nationally in 2001 to a peak of 31.6% in 2010.

There were 285,617 women who gave birth in hospitals (96.9%) in 2010. A further 6,367 women gave birth in birth centres (2.2%); this proportion was highest in South Australia (6.2%) and the Australian Capital Territory (5.5%). Planned homebirths and other births, such as those occurring unexpectedly before arrival in hospital or in other settings, accounted for the smallest proportion of women who gave birth (2,763 women, 0.9%) (Table 3.18).

In 2010, there were 1,345 women who gave birth at home, representing 0.5% of all women who gave birth. The highest proportions were in Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory (0.8%) (Table 3.18). It is probable that not all homebirths are reported to the perinatal data collections.

In 2010, there were 2,206 fetal deaths reported to the NPDC, resulting in a fetal death rate of 7.4 per 1,000 births. There were 2,202 fetal deaths in hospitals and other facilities. There were 4 fetal deaths at home births in 2010. Of babies born at home 99.7% were live born (1350 babies) or a fetal death rate of 2.3 per 1,000 births.

The mean age of mothers who gave birth at home was 31.8 years (Table 3.49). The proportion of mothers younger than 20 was 1.0%, and the proportion aged 35 and over was 28.7%. The proportion of mothers who gave birth at home who identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin was 0.9%. Most women who gave birth at home were living in Major cities (69.5%) (Table 3.49).

Of mothers who gave birth at home, one-quarter had their first baby (25.2%), and 74.3% were multiparous. The predominant method of birth for 99.3% of women who gave birth at home was non-instrumental vaginal (Table 3.49).The presentation was vertex for 97.2% of women who gave birth at home.

Of babies born at home in 2010, 99.7% were liveborn. The mean birthweight of these liveborn babies was 3,604 grams (Table 3.49). The proportion of liveborn babies of low birthweight born at home was 2.1%, and the proportion of preterm babies born at home was 2.2%.

Source: Australia’s Mothers & Babies Report 2010 available online here –

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