Did you know that there are many different ways to receive your maternity care?
The first big thing in Australia for maternity care is whether you are going to go private or public. The majority of the population will head towards the public system (it’s free!) and the following are some of the options in models of care available to you, depending on the area you live.
Midwifery Care – There are a few different ways to receive care from a midwife.
One option is the way we are most familiar with. You book in to your local hospital offering maternity services where you will attend antenatal appointments, the birth and once you leave the hospital with your baby, midwives linked to the hospital will visit you in your home (usually about twice – two days after and 1 week following discharge.) In this model you receive midwifery care with access to obstetric care when needed but the midwife attending you in throughout the three phases of care (pregnancy, birth & postnatal) is not usually known to you with different faces popping up throughout.
The next option is via a birth centre or case-load or team midwifery model, these options in maternity care are largely based on a continuity model of care meaning the system aims to have you build a relationship with one midwife or a small group of midwives. Research supports the fact that women’s overall experience of maternity care is greatly improved when the women is seeing someone consistent and familiar.
In the public system women receive doctor/obstetric care when they become what is considered a high-risk patient due to health complications in pregnancy or when complications occur during labour and birth.
At the Gold Coast University Hospital where I attend clinical placement in Midwifery, they have what is called a midwifery group practice or MGP. Women are assigned a midwife for their care but that midwife has a back up team in case she is sick or can’t attend the birth. When women come in to give birth they go to a separate part of the hospital Birth Suite called the Birth Centre. The woman sees her assigned midwife for all of her antenatal care and meets her at the hospital in labour and also comes and sees her at home.
In Lismore, NSW which is the closest major hospital to my location women can either attend the hospital as a patient requiring either low-risk midwifery care or high-risk doctor care where you likely won’t see the same midwife or doctor at each visit or women can apply to the Lismore Community Midwifery Service and have access to a midwife who becomes known to you over the course of your pregnancy and attends you in labour and birth and comes out to your home after the birth of your baby.
The GP Shared Care – What does this mean?
Women who have a GP in whom they trust sometimes like to continue seeing the GP throughout their pregnancy, for their antenatal care. The shared arrangement means that the women will also book in at the hospital and attend at least a couple of her antenatal appointments in the hospital clinic and will be attended by the midwives or doctors on the shift when she arrives at hospital in labour.
Going Private – What are the options?
There are actually a few options when choosing to go private. The most common option is obstetric care through a private hospital but one hospital not too far from where I live, John Flynn Hospital at Tugun also offers a birth centre and midwifery care to private patients. Generally speaking the obstetrician oversees all aspects of the woman's maternity care including decisions about labour and birth.
You can also have a private practice midwife. Midwives struggle to have adequate insurance and so this is not as widely available for women seeking to give birth at home and receive their antenatal and postnatal care in their home.
In QLD and particularly in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast there are smaller private midwifery group practices that offer private, personalised care in partnership with the hospitals. When a women goes into labour, her midwife meets her at the hospital and antenatal and postnatal care happen in the woman's home where possible or in the midwives clinic. It is not commonly known that for women who are considered low-risk in their pregnancy, midwives can work autonomously providing the care for the woman, ordering tests, screening, evaluating results and prescribing medications. Some of these visits are available with a medicare rebate and some out-of-pocket expenses are involved.
What were some of the benefits you found in your chosen maternity care?
Deeply Nurturing Blog
The Deeply Nurturing Blog serves as an online magazine, full of articles, interviews and stories relating to pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, caring for babies, transitions, raising children, relationships and women's health. By and about everyday women who are inspiring by their simple everyday choices in taking responsibility for their health and wellbeing.