Birthing centres and midwives
When you discover you are pregnant, you will need to consider:
- the type of birthing experience you want
- where you want to have the baby
- who will provide your maternity care.
It is important to have all the relevant information to help you make choices that are best for you.
In Queensland, you can give birth at:
- a public hospital
- a private hospital and private care
- a birth centres (public)
- a public or private hospital with private midwifery care
- home birth.
Your doctor or midwife will discuss these options with you.
If you decide to have your baby at a public hospital, your doctor will give you a referral.
The hospital you are referred to will be based on where you live-you may have a choice if there is more than one hospital in your area.
Once you have been referred to a hospital, you should ask about the maternity services they provide. Some rural hospitals do not offer all services, so you may need to attend another hospital for the birth.
You have several options for your maternity care if you choose a public hospital.
- Routine care—your care is provided in the hospital and you may be seen by doctors or midwives.
- Midwife care—your care is provided by a midwife or group of midwives in some public hospitals. To access a hospital-based midwife, your GP will refer you, or you may check with your local hospital and self-refer.
- Continuity of midwifery care (Midwifery Group Practice)—your care is provided by a midwife during your pregnancy, when have your baby and for up to 6 weeks after the baby is born.
- GP shared care—your care is shared between your GP and the local hospital doctors and midwives. Not all GPs provide maternity shared care.
- Private Midwifery care—a private midwife or midwife in a team will provide all of your care including when you have your baby and for up to 6 weeks after the baby is born. You can choose your own midwife, but they must have admitting rights to the hospital you plan to deliver at. You will be responsible for the cost of private midwifery care. Medicare rebates are available.
The benefits of a public hospital include:
- accessing free, high-quality care
- engaging with care-givers who may be present at the birth and building a positive relationship with them
- accessing specialist doctors and services, if required
- accessing a specialist baby care unit, if required.
If you have health insurance (or can afford to pay the up-front costs), you can choose a private hospital, or attend a public hospital as a private patient, for the birth of your child.
It is very important that you check with your health insurance provider exactly what is covered, and if your baby is covered after the birth.
Talk to your midwife or doctor about what costs you can expect, including costs that arise from any unexpected circumstances.
There may be a waiting period (usually 12 months) before you can claim health insurance rebates.
You can choose:
- private obstetric care—your care is provided by an obstetrician who specialises in caring for women with complicated pregnancies or special circumstances. If you choose to be cared for by a private obstetrician in a private hospital, you will need a referral from a GP
- private midwife care—your care is provided by a midwife, or group of midwives, from a private group practice or hospital. You can choose to have your baby in hospital or at home.
Some of the benefits of private care include:
- choosing the hospital
- choosing your obstetrician or midwife
- having a private room (your partner may also be able to stay).
Birth centres operate with the belief that, for many women, pregnancy and birth is a normal life event requiring little intervention from health professionals.
There are 5 birth centres in Queensland:
- Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital—phone (07) 3646 8111
- Gold Coast Hospital Birth Centre—phone (07) 5519 8211
- Mackay Birth Centre—phone (07) 4885 6000
- Toowoomba Base Hospital Birth Centre—phone (07) 4616 6000
- Townsville Hospital Birth Centre—phone (07) 4433 2779.
Birth centres have a more ‘homely’ feel and a more relaxed atmosphere than a hospital maternity ward.
Different birthing options such as water births may also be available.
You will receive continuous care from the same midwife, or small group of midwives, from pregnancy to the early stages of parenting.
You will only be accepted into a birth centre if your pregnancy is deemed to be ‘low-risk’ (you can be transferred to a hospital if complications arise during your pregnancy or labour).
If you want to be considered for a place in a hospital’s birthing centre (if there is one), make sure your doctor includes this in their referral. Some birth centres work based on a self-referral. Check with your doctor or midwife if this is the case.
Be sure to book in as early as possible as there is usually a high demand for places.
Giving birth at home is usually only an option if you are deemed to have a low-risk pregnancy—discuss this with your midwife or doctor.
Only a limited number of doctors and midwives are willing to attend a home birth.
The main advantage of a home birth is that you will be in familiar surroundings that you may find more relaxing.
The main disadvantage is that you won’t have easy access to additional services and you may need to be transferred to a hospital if there are complications.
A midwife is a health professional who cares for expectant mothers, and offers education and support from pregnancy to early parenting.
Having the same person supporting you during your pregnancy is one of the main benefits of having a midwife as your primary carer.
A midwife will:
- provide advice during your pregnancy
- support you during your baby's birth
- care for you and your baby after the birth
- monitor you and your baby’s condition
- get specialist help when needed, or carry out emergency measures if a specialist is unavailable.
Remember that if any complications occur during your pregnancy, the midwife will work with specialist medical and nursing staff.
Find out more about midwifery services in Queensland.