Last week I sat down with Olga, in her beautiful old Terrace house in Surry Hills. Surrounded by stunning vintage furniture, including an original Parker lounge just casually placed in her second sitting room. The exact couch I could only dream of owning as I purchased the replica in IKEA. We talked all things women's rights from owning your voice in a meeting to starting a new job and finding the line between being seen as knowledgeable or putting people offside.
Olga is half Russian half El Salvadorian, born in Panama and grew up in the Southern states of America before relocating to Australia to studying to be a midwife. She is a Midwife who advocates for home birth, a subject surrounded by controversy. We sat down to talk about her journey in Midwifery and how she is hoping to change people's perceptions of home birth one pregnancy at a time.
L: Why are you a strong believer in home birth?
O: I believe women deserve the right to be supported and respected to make informed choices regarding their pregnancies, their bodies, and where they want to give birth. Some women feel safe in a birth centre, some in a hospital, and some feel that home is the safest place for them to birth.
L: With all the research telling us home births are great why do you think we aren't seeing more home births in Australia?
O: There are many barriers to having a home birth in NSW in particular. Political support for indemnity insurance for private midwives to attend home births, as well as support for publicly funded homebirth programs. Changing these regulations would be a great achievement for women seeking this service. I also believe that models of care (such as midwifery-led continuity of care) that place women at the centre of their care will see the rise of a positive birth culture and respect for women's informed choices.
There is growing evidence that it is safe for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies to give birth at home if she has:
1) Skilled birth attendants (midwives)
2) If there are clear processes in place for emergencies
3) Timely transport to the hospital if needed (namely 20-30 travel time).
L: I can't believe the costs involved with giving birth at home. I had no idea home births cost up too $6000, and these fees aren't all covered by health care!
Tell me, what are the ways you are saying stuff you to how things are set up at the moment?
O: I recently left a job that I loved to join a hospital that is offering publicly funded home birth as an option for women. I am eager to learn from the experienced midwives and supportive doctors providing this service. I think we need more midwives who are trained and confident in providing this service and I'm ready to begin taking the steps required to help.
Olga is such an inspiration to me. As a baby that was born at home myself and is still around today! I know that when the time comes, I will strongly consider home birth as one of my options. Although I'm not sure I'd be able to go on a coffee date with Olga again if she was my midwife and had seen me at 10cm dilated.
If you want to know more about home births Olga has kindly offered some references to have a read through.
Photography by Lila Marvell.