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Midwife, obstetrician or shared care?

Midwives or obstetricians; public or private; hospital or birth centre. It’s important to know your options

Arranging pregnancy and birth care can be quite overwhelming — particularly for first-time mums. With so much information out there, and various options to choose from, it’s hard to know what will work best for you and your unborn child.

To help make the decision that little bit easier, we’ve outlined each of the various pregnancy and birth care options available — including midwifery-led care, private obstetrics care and shared care with your GP.

1. Midwifery-led care

Midwives provide primary prenatal, birthing and postnatal care in hospitals, as well as in birth centres attached to hospitals. Midwifery-led care is best for low-risk pregnancies, and provides consistency and comfort for many women, because the same person or group of people see you through from pregnancy to postnatal care. Many births are attended by midwives only, and an obstetrician will only attend if complications arise.

Pro tip: Midwifery-led wards and centres book up very quickly, so if you’re interested in this type of care, speak to your GP about it as soon as you know you’re pregnant, or try and book in with your chosen facility directly.

2. Private obstetrics care

If your private health cover includes obstetrics services, you may choose this option for your antenatal care and birth. One of the many benefits of this is that you’ll have the ability to pick your obstetrician, who will be with you consistently throughout your pregnancy. Note, not all private obstetricians practice in private hospitals, so depending on your choice, you may give birth in a public hospital as a private patient. Delivering in a public hospital doesn’t mean the care or facilities will be sub-par; in fact your doctor may deliver there because the facilities or expertise are better.

During your labour, your obstetrician will generally come to the delivery room shortly before the birth. Midwives provide care until this point, as well as after the birth, staying in regular contact with your obstetrician throughout.

Pro tip: If you’re thinking about growing your family, it’s a good idea to update your private health cover early on, as there is a 12-month waiting period on private obstetrics services. If you don’t get a chance to do this before falling pregnant, don’t worry — you can still opt for private obstetrics care without having this cover. There will be additional costs associated with this however, so it’s best to chat to your GP about the best options available to you.

3. Shared care

If obstetrics services are not included in your private health cover, you have a great relationship with your GP and you have a low-risk pregnancy, you may decide shared care is the right option for you. Shared care is when your prenatal care is split between your local practitioner and a birthing hospital or centre. You see your GP for some pregnancy appointments, and go to hospital for others, such as scans. If you live rurally, you may see your GP for the majority of your appointments, and if they are qualified in obstetrics, they may also be in the delivery room with you for the birth.

Pro tip: If you decide shared care is right for you, make sure you check that your GP offers this service and is accredited with your preferred hospital. Alternatively, you can contact your hospital to find out which GPs offer this service.

Having a baby is an exciting and emotional time, and of course you’ll want to choose a form of prenatal and birthing care that you’re comfortable and happy with. With Medibank’s growing family packages, you can choose a cover to suit your needs, preferences and budget, whether that’s in a public or a private hospital.

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