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Birthing Options in NSW – Hospital, Private, Homebirth or Birthing Centre?

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

Who knew there could be so many options to choose from when we are deciding where and how we would like to deliver our baby? It can be quite confusing, especially if you are a first-time mum. So, I am going to take you through the birthing options available to you here in NSW and then you can decide what suits you and your partner best and what options you would like to explore further.


Public Hospital Care

If you would like to birth in your local public hospital, there are a few options of care available to you and they are as follows:

Midwifery Group Practice (also known as caseload midwifery) – you will be cared for throughout your pregnancy, birth, and postnatal visits but a primary midwife with a small group of midwives who provide cover and assistance if needed. You will be seen at your local hospital for your visits and are able to join this group practice if you are low risk. You will get to know one midwife, build up a close relationship throughout your pregnancy but be aware that if they are on holiday or unavailable for your birth you will experience your labour with other another midwife from the group practice.


Team midwifery - you will be cared for throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal visits by a small team of midwives, you may see a different midwife at each of your antennal appointments, but you will be getting to know the whole team over your pregnancy and one of these midwives will be at your birth. Your antenatal appointments will be at your local public hospital.


If you would like to dive a little deeper into the edivence based information on midwife led models you can visit and look through research from Cochrane - https://www.cochrane.org/CD004667/PREG_midwife-led-continuity-models-care-compared-other-models-care-women-during-pregnancy-birth-and-early


Shared GP Care – if you have a close and good relationship with your doctor you can choose to see them throughout your pregnancy alongside antenatal appointments with the midwives at your local hospital.

Those are the options available to you if you would like to give birth at your local public hospital and all these options are covered by Medicare. Talk to your doctor about these options and let them which one you would like to explore further for the birth of your baby.


Private Hospital Care

Having your baby in a private hospital enables you to have one option of care, this will be to choose a private OB who you will then see at the hospital in their room for all your antenatal appointments. During your labour there will be midwives supporting you throughout and you OB will be there as and when you need them and for stage 2 (the birth of your baby) of your labour. There will be various costs to having a baby in a private hospital, but you may be covered by some of the costs if you have private health insurance. It is important to chat through the costings upfront so have no scary surprises along the way.



Birth Centres

Birth Centres are another option, but they are few and far between. They are run by local hospitals and have more of a home environment. They run Midwife Group Practice (as above) and you will be looked after in labour and birth by your primary midwife (if she is available and if not another midwife from the Group Practice will be supporting you). After giving birth at a birth centre, you’re likely to go home within 24 hours and have follow-up care by midwives at home. This option is only available if you are low risk and you can ask your GP or local hospital for birth centre options if available near you.


Homebirth

Homebirth is our next option and there are two possible types of care when it comes to homebirth.

Funded by your local hospital – this means that the hospital will provide their midwives for you to have your birth at home. You will have all your antenatal visits at home. You can find out about this possibility by asking your midwife, doctor or through your local hospital’s birth centre.


Private midwife led – this enables you to choose a local midwife who is practicing privately to support women in having homebirths. You can find a list of your local private midwives, interview them and see which you feel most comfortable with and who you connect with. You will then see your chosen private midwife (they will also have a backup midwife they work with who will also be at your birth for support) throughout your pregnancy and for all your antennal visits.


For a list of private midwives practicing, you can visit - https://www.homebirthnsw.org.au/ you can also ask your GP and any friends and in local FB groups for recommendations. If you live on the Central Coast like me I can highly recommend Tracey from https://www.centralcoasthomebirth.com/about


Birth Doula

A birth doula is a trained support person who will provide you with continuous care, support you through your pregnancy and be there for the birth of your baby whether it be in a private or local hospital, birthing centre or homebirth. Doula’s are non-medical (they do not preform any medical procedure) and they are there to support you as the mum through your birth. A birth doula can cost around $800-$2000 depending on your location. You can choose one from your local area who you connect with and who feels like an old friend from your very first meeting with them.


A few ideas to help you decide which care to go for:

· Write down a list of your needs for the birth of your baby for example, if you would like to have a water birth, if you would like to have just one point of contact throughout the whole of your pregnancy or prefer to work with a team of people, who you like access to drugs,

· Write down what you would like to avoid for the birth of you baby for example, drugs, episiotomy, C-section.

· Find stats and numbers on things like C-section rates, epidural rates, episiotomy rates when you are researching the above options in your local area. Then reflect on your wants and needs and things you would like to avoid.

I hope you have found this post useful, and it has made it a little easier to navigate your options for and your partner on deciding where and how you would like to birth your baby. Remember YOU can ask as many questions as you like and ask for anything you need when talking to your local GP, hospital or OB when making this decision. You can also change your mind if you are not happy with the care you are being provided with.

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