Expectant mothers across North and North West Tasmania continue to be able to choose a women-centred and non-medicalised birth due to the passion of private midwives who strongly believe in the "humanisation of birth".
This passion for women's choice is increasingly being matched by new and second-time mums who are informing themselves of the options and who want to have more control over their pregnancy and birthing experiences.
This year the Launceston Birth Centre, which is strategically located in close proximity to the Launceston General Hospital, was able to continue to offer this choice to many Tasmanian women under the guidance of Melbourne midwife Emma Ryder.
And in the North West, independent midwives at GEMS - Gentle and Empowering Midwifery Services, say that they have been unable to keep up with demand from mothers who are seeking to choose a non-medicalised birth.
Ms Ryder, who has been helping Tasmanian midwives, including Jaimee Smith, to become privately endorsed so that they may continue to provide the LBC services into the future, wants to raise awareness and send a message of hope to families that informed birth options are important for women.
She stressed that despite Tasmania experiencing some of the highest rates of caesareans in Australia, a majority of women who attend the LBC are able to have a normal physiological vaginal birth.
This type of birth refers to a labour that relies on the innate human capacity of the female body and the baby, and their normal physiological powers, without intervention from drugs, induction and other medical processes.
Ms Ryder said in the past year, more than 90 per cent of mothers at LBC had normal births, and labours that started spontaneously, which did require perenial suturing. Almost 100 per cent were breastfeeding past six months.
Up to 5 per cent had elected C-sections and 2.5 per cent had emergency C-sections.
"It is perfectly possible for a woman to have a normal physiological birth but unfortunately the services and facilities in this country, such as birth centres, are few," Ms Ryder said.
"Women are not fundamentally faulty and we don't need to be managed all the time. We can grow the babies and we can birth them.
"So many women these days are terrified of birth, terrified of the whole experience, but birth should be one of the most incredible things in your whole life, it is a right of passage of being a women, and it can be incredibly empowering."
She said the LBC was incredibly fortunate to have an exceptional relationship with the LGH, which meant that women who needed an emergency caesarean, who elected to have a caesarean or otherwise needed to go into the hospital, could safely do so.
"We as endorsed midwives have to do mandatory training every year in maternal and neonatal resuscitation and maternal emergencies. We have all the necessary emergency equipment and emergency drugs. We also have a collaborative arrangement with the LGH and all our clients have back-up bookings with the LGH," she said.
"The atmosphere of the birth centre is one of enabling the humanisation of birth...We really get to know a woman and discover and facilitate together how she wants her pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding experience to unfold," she said.
"The woman is at the centre of her care"
Increasing medicalization of normal childbirth processes are undermining a woman's own capability to give birth and negatively impacting her birth experience.World Health Organisation
Ms Ryder said the prerequisites for a normal physiological birth are that the woman feels safe, undisturbed and private.
"We support active birth where a woman can move freely and use water immersion during labour and waterbirth."
She said women who come to the birth centre will use non-pharmacological pain relief such as breathing exercises, water births, music, massage, essential oils and various activities.
"These enable production of oxytocin which flows freely when a woman is not afraid and feels safe and supported and undisturbed.
We can grow the babies and we can birth them...So many women these days are terrified of birth, terrified of the whole experience, but birth should be one of the most incredible things in your whole life.Midwife Emma Ryder
In 2018 the World Health Organisation issued new recommendations to establish global care standards for healthy pregnant women and reduce unnecessary medical interventions.
It found that a majority of women can birth babies without complications but global studies show that a substantial proportion of healthy pregnant women undergo at least one clinical intervention.
WHO Family assistant director Princess Simelela said the increasing medicalization of normal childbirth processes are undermining a woman's own capability to give birth and negatively impacting her birth experience.
"If labour is progressing normally, and the woman and her baby are in good condition, they do not need to receive additional interventions to accelerate labour," she said.
WHO said that most women want a natural labour and birth but acknowledge that birth is unpredictable and risky.
"Even when interventions are needed or wanted, women usually wish to retain a sense of personal achievement and control by being involved in decision making, and by rooming in with their baby after childbirth."
For Ms Ryder, who will soon return to Melbourne, the past year at LBC had been an incredible time, caring for lots of mothers, babies and their families.
"It has been a wonderful experience to see so many happy mothers who have experienced positive childbirth and breastfeeding experiences," she said.
"Women need to know they have birth options, and that they can make an informed choice about what they want for their birth," she said.
"They also need to know that if they want these options to remain, they need to stand up and start shouting about it."