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Thread: Victorian Birth Statistics - What's Happening During Birth

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia

    Exclamation Victorian Birth Statistics - What's Happening During Birth

    Australia is a place of well women. Compared to many other countries, we are lucky to have a great diet, great health - in fact we are something like 3rd on the list in this department. So the question remains, why are we around 13th on the list for outcomes for mother and baby at birth? Something is going terribly wrong for a country that is so well, affluent, flourishing... here are the sobering figures.

    The 2005-2006 data comes out in 2007, but here is a snapshot of what the birth world was like in 2003-2004. You can see the full report HERE:

    51% male births, 49% females, 99.0% liveborn and surviving the neonatal period (28 days). Born at <37wks gestation 7.8% and born at >=42 weeks gestation 1.2%

    Place of Birth

    Birth in hospitals 97%
    Birth Centres 2%
    Planned homebirths 0.3%
    Born before arrival 0.4% - these are the babies born in backseats, laundry floor etc. LOL!

    Commencement of Labour

    57% spontaneous labour (went into labour naturally - doesn't mean no intervention after this)
    19% spontaneous labour with augmentation (artificial stimulation of labour)
    26.5% induced labour
    16.9% no labour due to more elective caesars (highest since reporting in 1982)
    29.5% caesareans (15% elective, 14% emergency caesareans). In 1985, 15% was the rate.

    Private vs Public

    You would expect the public hospitals to have a higher rate of intervention as many hospitals are teaching hospitals, therefore they need to do their quotas of various interventions as experience, but this is not the case...

    Private Inductions - 29.7% Public Inductions - 25.5%
    Private caesareans - 21.6% Public caesareans - 13.8%

    Assisted delivery

    Vacuum: 1985 - 0.5% 2004 - 6.9%
    Forceps: 1985 - 15.8% 2004 6.2%
    Breech Caesareans: 1985 - 64% 2004 - 95%
    Assisted Breech Birth: 1985 - 35% 2005 - 5%

    Pain Relief

    26% - no pain relief
    32% - gas only
    25% - intramuscular (e.g. peth, morphine) + or - gas
    26% - epidural
    92% - epidural for caesar

    Private spontaneous cephalic birth epidural rate 20.6% vs Public 10.5%

    The Perineum Situation

    41% women intact perineum
    23% episiotomy
    36% requiring suturing

    Public spontaneous birth intact perineum rate 48.2% vs Private 26.9%


    3.5% of all births (1,123 sets)
    Triplets declined to only 16 sets
    28% twin births are to mothers 35 years +
    69.6% caesarean rate


    The perinatal statistics show a consistent rate of around 15% caesareans are considered elective with emergency cs rates being anywhere between 11% and 14%.

    The three main reported indications for elective caesareans in VIC were:
    Previous caesareans (57%), malpresentation (18%) and Other reported indications. (12.5%).

    The three main reported indications for emergency caesareans in VIC were:
    CPD/failure to progress(32%), fetal distress (31%) and malpresentation (12%).


    Women who plan homebirths have a caesarean rate of 7% (0.2% elective, 6.8% emergency)
    Women who plan birth centre births have a caesarean rate of 11.9% (2.1% elective, 9.8% emergency)
    Women who plan hospital births have a caesarean rate of 29.4% (15.6% elective, 14.3% emergency)

    Also, if I can read my writing correctly, he's some figures I collected from the homebirth conference 2006. And before you freak out about homebirth, think of it this way - see what our bodies ARE capable of? See how much we are being short-changed by the system?

    Ina May Gaskin - Stats for 'The Farm'
    1970-2005 - 2286 births

    births completed 95.1%
    transports 4.9%
    emergency transports 1.3%
    primigravidas 44.7%
    multigravidas 55.3%
    grand multiparas 8.4%
    caesareans 1.5% - transverse etc. First 400 births 0.5%
    forceps 0.4%
    vacuum 0.1%
    inductions 5.4% e.g. with methods like castor oil
    maternal mortality 0
    neonatal mortality 0.36%

    There were no more stats but I found this on her site which I thought I would add, which is only based on stats up to the year 2000:

    Cases with no preeclampsia - 99.61%
    Cases of preeclampsia - .39%
    Cases with no hemorrhage - 98.2%
    Cases of postpartum hemorrhage - 1.8%

    We were shown other statistics too, one from a doctor in Europe running a homebirth practice who served over 40,000 women and maintained the 1.5% caesarean rate and very low intervention.

    NZ birth scene

    1996 homebirth changes implimented offering continuity and co-ordinated care across all levels - midwives, doctors, obs etc

    Lead maternity carer chosen by woman:

    Midwife 78%
    GP 8%
    Ob 8%
    Unregistered / not noted 7%

    All of the above are free of charge unless you want a private Ob.

    Of the above percent of midwives 80% midwives have their own business and 20% employed by hospitals

    there are 59 (!!!) midwifery run units and they estimate around 3-5% are hombirthing - with midwifery run units obviously this would be low anyway.

    benefits since adopting new system (which are still being collaborated):

    *ante-natal admissions decreased
    *fewer sick babies and NICU admissions
    *fewer pre-term birth
    *immunised at 6 weeks 94%
    *lower c/s, induction, instrumental birth, 3rd degree tears, trauma, higher apgars
    *declining mortality rates
    *increased exclusive breastfeeding

    I will have more stats soon, they are handing out report summaries of the talks, but also, in a few weeks, NZ is releasing an official report on the state of things, so it will be interesting to see if it gets out to the media. They have made some amazing inroads and I think Australia has alot to learn from this. No doubt they will be saving their government lots of money too.

    The bottom line: Particularly if you are wanting a normal physiological childbirth, you need to make good choices, you need to be aware of what you are up against and you need to be informed and well supported.

    Last edited by BellyBelly; June 1st, 2007 at 04:43 PM.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Join us in Melbourne on Saturday April 7th!
    Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sydney's Norwest


    Thanks for that Kelly, very interesting reading and stats.

  3. #3


    Very, Very Interesting. Thanks.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2006


    Thank you Kelly for this informative summary, this is compelling information and real food for thought. I really hope that as we become more informed and empowered, we'll see our stats here in Australia change - and that this will reflect a better deal, and more options, for Aussie women.
    We're worth it!!!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia


    Here are the latest hospital figures (performance indicators) for 2005-2006.

    Warragul (again) deserves a big cheer for their low induction and caesar rates in first time mums, and their great VBAC rates. Traralgon just pipped Warragul
    in actual VBACs completed both in the low 70%. The VBAC attempt rates post 1st caesar are not that flash - the statewide public average is under 30%. Bairnsdale again is above state average induction and caesar rates for first timers. The figure show there is still much work to be done.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Join us in Melbourne on Saturday April 7th!
    Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know

  6. #6


    Wow Kelly, i just read all those stats, i didn't realise the whole private vs public difference was so huge when it comes to interventions... makes me feel happier knowing i have decided to birth at a public hospital over private now.

    And i can definitely see where the difference again is with homebirth compared to hospitals in general... very interesting....
    I can see why you say that you need to be very strong willed about what you want and have a birth plan etc before going into hospital so they know what we want etc and don't try to over-step us... thanks.

    hopefully if i can learn as much as possible before i give birth and know my rights etc, then hopefully the midwives , doctors etc respect my wishes....

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2006



  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Home of the Winery Walkabout!


    very interesting information Kelly..Thankyou for providing it

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Eastern 'Burbs


    Any stats yet for 2006-7?

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    Hi Kelly, Do you know if there is a similar nation wide report?

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia


    I'm not sure, you could google for it, but as far as I know only VIC does. Google perinatal data stats and the state you live in. e.g. I googled perinatal data stats victoria.

    The 2005-2006 stats are up, they are very slow to publish them, but you can keep track of VIC stats here: Births in Victoria : Perinatal - Victorian Government Health Information
    Kelly xx

    Creator of, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Join us in Melbourne on Saturday April 7th!
    Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know

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