New Zealand Home Birth Book   

Back Cover Review by Maggie Banks

This collection of home birth stories, which will inspire those who are exploring the home birth option, should be read by all pregnant women. Rather than depicting home birthing women as a rare breed, it reflects the aspirations, strategies for coping with labour, and fear of the ‘what ifs’ of ordinary (but extraordinary) women and families. The narratives range from birthing at home with a first baby to those who have experienced interventionist, surgical births, including caesarean section with previous babies. Each story holds threads for birth planning that will assist women to maintain control over their birthing experiences and ensure safe passage for their babies. 

While aimed at birthing women, midwives will also gain insights into the effects, both positive and negative, of their care.  

Maggie Banks (PhD, RM, RGON) Author, midwifery educator and home birth midwife 


Take a look at this promotional video to gain greater insight into what this book is all about: 

More About the Book and Its Origins

My experiences as a midwife and as a home birthing woman taught me what an important and life-changing occasion birth can be, both in a wonderfully positive, and a despairingly negative, light. Birth can be violent, or it can be gentle, birth can be disempowering, or it can be empowering. And it appeared to me that there were some key factors that enabled women to achieve gentle and empowering births. They are: choosing a ‘good’ midwife, becoming informed and taking responsibility for decision-making, and choosing a comfortable, private and safe birth environment.

In the medicalised world of birth that we currently face, many women (and maternity caregivers) seem to have lost touch with the reality that, for the majority of women, giving birth is a natural and healthy part of life that does not require medical interference. Instead, they fear what will go wrong, they lose trust in their birthing bodies, and they become reliant on technology and medicine to guide their journey. A select few of the birthing and midwifery population, however, believe in and trust the natural birthing process. I wanted to compile a book of the birth stories of these enlightened women, so that their positive experiences could inform and inspire others who were pregnant or contemplating motherhood.

The desire of mine to produce such a book began when I was pregnant with my daughter (13 years ago). Ina May Gaskin’s book, Spiritual Midwifery, was my pregnancy bible. Each night I would soak up another of the birth stories it contained, feeling inspired and excited. However, the births took place in Tennessee on ‘The Farm’ (a type of hippie birthing commune), and felt to me to be very removed from the sort of Kiwi experiences of home birth that I’d encountered. It was that that inspired me to produce a book of New Zealand home birth stories - a book that New Zealand women could relate to and that they felt contained stories that translated to an achievable experience for themselves. Five years ago I started collecting birth stories and, finally, I have produced the book that I’d dreamed of producing all those years ago.

Where the Heart Is contains the stories of over 30 women (and a couple of home birth dads). It is divided into five chapters, headed: ‘Home Birth From the Start’, ‘Healing Birth’, ‘Facing the Unexpected’, ‘Birth and Death’, and ‘Maori Birth’. The end of each chapter gives a summary of the key ideas expressed in the stories that enabled the women to achieve the positive and empowering births that they did. Also included are a number of photographs, including two professionally produced photographic stories. 

The readers for whom the book is intended are: pregnant women (especially those who are pregnant with their first baby, or who had a previous traumatic birth experience), their partners and/or other birth support people, and any women contemplating pregnancy. My hope is that they will be encouraged and inspired to achieve a positive and gentle birth, and will feel empowered with the knowledge they need to make their dream birth become their reality. Where the Heart Is also contains valuable information for midwives about how their practice influences the experiences of the women they support. I believe that Where the Heart Is should be required reading for every midwifery student in New Zealand.

Review in 'Home Birth Matters' Magazine

Read it here.

Getting Your Hands on a Copy 

Where the Heart Is is available for purchase via and I have some books in stock for $25NZD plus postage ($7 anywhere in NZ for up to 4 books). Email me at to order.