Your Care Provider Options
Giving birth is a very personal journey and there are many different options that women have for pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care. When you find out that you are pregnant, you’ll need to consider where you want to give birth, what type of birthing experience that you want and who will provide your maternity care.
We’ve detailed the different care options that may be available to you for your pregnancy and childbirth of your little miracle that ensure you get continuity of care. Some rural areas do not offer all of the below services, so it’s important to ask your doctor what options are available to your area when you confirm your pregnancy.
Made up of maternity support workers and midwives, community midwifery involves your antenatal and postnatal care being given to you in the community, with midwives being on call for home births and supporting Birth Centres (see below). Continuity of care is provided by midwives during your pregnancy, when you give birth and for up to 6 weeks after your baby is born.
Unsure what a midwife does? Midwives are health professionals who provide care for expectant mothers, offering support and education during your pregnancy and early parenting. Midwives:
- Offer advice and support during pregnancy
- Support you during childbirth
- Get specialists where needed or carry out emergency measures if necessary
- Provide care for you and your child after childbirth
- Monitor you and your child’s condition
One of the main benefits of utilising community midwifery for your pregnancy journey is that you have the same person supporting you throughout pregnancy, delivery and your post-partum journey.
Private Midwifery is another option very similar to community midwifery, except that you have the ability to choose your own midwife (they need to have admitting rights to the hospital or Birth Centre in which you intend to deliver your child) and you are responsible for the costs of private midwifery care (after Medicare rebates if applicable).
GP Shared Care
In this situation, your maternity, delivery and postpartum care is shared between your doctor (GP) and the doctors and midwives at your local hospital.
This shared care arrangement is between a GP and the birthing hospital or birth centre where you intend to give birth. You will see your GP for most of your pregnancy related appointments, but you will also have some appointments at hospital during early and later pregnancy.
The benefit of GP Shared Care is that if you are familiar with and like your GP, they know your medical history and can help you to make informed decisions about your maternity care knowing your background.
Birth Centre Midwifery
These centres believe that pregnancy and birth is a normal life event for women that often requires minimal intervention from health professionals. Birth centres aim to provide a relaxed atmosphere that is more like home than a hospital maternity ward would be. Some birth centres include the option of water births and other birthing options. These centres are only an option for you if your pregnancy is deemed to be ‘low risk’. Care is provided to you by the same midwife or a small group of midwives from the early stages of pregnancy through to your post-partum support.
If issues arise during your pregnancy, labour and delivery at a birth centre, you will be transferred to a hospital if possible.
Demand is high for birth centres, so if this is an option that you are interested in, you may need to book in as early as possible.
If you have private health insurance that covers pregnancy (check your policy coverage) or can afford to pay the up-front costs of private care, you have the option of attending a private hospital or a public hospital as a private patient for your delivery.
Going though the private system means that your care is provided by an obstetrician who specialises in complicated pregnancies or special circumstances. Care throughout your pregnancy and delivery is provided by your obstetrician and private midwives, as well as care from your obstetrician, midwives and paediatricians in the first days after childbirth.
Benefits of private care include being able to choose the hospital in which you want to give birth, choosing your obstetrician, having a private room in hospital where your partner may be able to stay with you and staying in hospital for a longer period of time, providing you with support in the first days with your baby and on-hand postpartum care.
This option can be expensive if your private health cover is not adequate and some services may not be covered on your policy – so make sure you know what costs you can expect by talking to your midwife or doctor before deciding on this option.
What to consider
With so many options to consider, what’s important to you when choosing your care providers?
- Do their values around child birth match mine?
- What are their policies around post dates?
- Is having the same care provider throughout my pregnancy journey important to me – someone I know and trust?
- What is their view on pain relief and interventions?
- Does my care provider know enough around obstetric or pregnancy care (some GP’s are not as informed as others)?
- What are the things that are important to me, eg drug free birth, intervention, breastfeeding and will this care provider be able to support me well?
Have more questions? Get in touch!