Maternity care options part 1

Maternity care models – Part 1

Finding out that you are pregnant can be exciting, joyous and wonderful. However, when it comes to choosing the model of care that fits you best, this may be overwhelming and confusing. You may take the path that your friends or loved ones have chosen or recommended, but is it right for you? In Australia, we are lucky enough to have most models of care accessible. It is important to research and gain an understanding of how each of these systems work so that you can have the best suited and most empowering journey, on grounds that you feel safe to tread.

There are 2 main umbrellas of care, split into public & private care:

Public Care

Hospital Care

Australia has one of the best public care systems in the world. You are provided with free healthcare, paid by taxpayer money. Usually, when you find out that you are pregnant, you would go to your GP to conduct a baseline of blood tests, confirming your pregnancy as well as iron studies, STI screens etc. Your GP may advise you of your closest public hospital, based on where you live and that hospital’s catchment area. You would then book in for your initial appointment, usually conducted by a midwife who will ask you a range of both social and medical questions, to gain a deeper understanding of your history. This will place you in a category of low, medium or high risk.

If you are low risk your care will mainly be with the midwives, as midwives specialise and support the normal aspect of pregnancy. If, throughout your pregnancy you are placed in a higher-risk model, for example you develop high blood pressure, your midwife will flag this and you will be seen more often by doctors.

GP Shared Care

This is a branch of the public healthcare system. Whereby, if you have a rapport with your GP, and you are low risk, you may be eligible to have most of your antenatal appointments with the GP. Some appointments would be with a midwife, usually, at the beginning, middle and towards the end of the pregnancy. You are not eligible for this model if you fall into a high-risk category, because it would be recommended that you are seen by the obstetric team to closely monitor yours and the baby’s health.

Some aspects in the public system to consider:

  • – You may be seen by a different midwife or healthcare professional at each appointment.
  • – It is ‘luck of the draw’ which midwife you may have at your birth.
  • – You may have a student who is paired with the midwife, who would ‘catch’ your baby or be present at the birth (you can decline this).
  • – It is free.   
  • – The doctors work on a rotational roster, meaning, there will always be doctors physically present at the hospital. If something out of the realm of normal occurs, or if there is an emergency, the doctors will be there straight away.
  • – You may not have met this doctor before.
  • – As part of postpartum care, you will usually have one or two free at home visits by midwives that give education, breastfeeding advice and weigh the baby.