From 1 February, 2014 it is an offence for any person in South Australia, other than a medical practitioner or midwife registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, to carry out a restricted birthing practice.
This restriction does not deny a woman the choice of whether her baby is born at home or in a hospital. Nor does it deny a woman the choice to have a support person present throughout her pregnancy to provide emotional or social support.
While the focus is on the three stages of labour and child birth this does not detract from the importance of antenatal and postnatal care also being provided only by registered practitioners. This will ensure that a woman will be able to make an informed choice about birthing options and the health and wellbeing of their baby.
A restricted birthing practice is defined under the legislation as an act that involves undertaking the care of a woman by managing the three stages (or any part of these stages) of labour or child birth.
Why restrict birthing practices?
The restriction on birthing practices to a registered medical practitioner or midwife is in response to the recommendations of the Coronial Inquest published on 6 June 2012 (PDF 787KB) into the unrelated deaths of three babies who died at the time of, or very soon after, their births between 2007 and 2011. Each of these babies died after complications that were experienced during their delivery by way of planned homebirths.
The restriction on birthing practices will ensure that only those registered practitioners that hold the necessary education and training and that practise within accepted professional standards can provide these services. This will ensure the safety of the woman and her baby during the three stages of labour and child birth.
Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act
a medical practitioner registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law; or
a midwife registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law; or
a student who carries out the restricted birthing practice as part of an approved program of study for the medical profession or nursing and midwifery profession; or
is acting under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner or midwife and is acting in accordance with any standards, codes or guidelines issued by the National Board established for the relevant profession; or
is acting under the form of delegated authority transferred or conferred by a midwife that is recognised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and is made in accordance with any standards, codes or guidelines issued by the Board;
is rendering assistance to a woman who is in labour or giving birth to a child, or who has given birth to a child, where the assistance is provided in an emergency.
Failure to comply with these requirements attracts a maximum penalty of $30,000 or imprisonment for 12 months.
Activities constituting a restricted birthing practice
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