Similar to most states and territories in Australia, New South Wales has a vast majority of options for birthing women and meeting the needs of each individual. I am sure most of you reading have always thought you would be birthing your baby on a hospital bed, legs up in stirrups and a team of professionals surrounding you while you push, push and push. Well that is what all the movies show anyway.
However, that is not the only option for you, or me, or any woman in most countries. Though alternative birthing methods are not as widely shown on TV, in many birthing books, through the media or through stories, they do exist!
Below I am going to highlight the options for women in New South Wales, Australia. It is important to check in with your state Government and nearby hospitals and organisations to find out what is and is not available to you. Your local General Practitioner (GP), Midwife, Doula or Obstetrician (OB) can help you find out all your options.
If you have private health insurance and would like your baby to be delivered by an Obstetrician and find value in the way the hospital system births, as well as possibly having a high risk pregnancy, then this may be the option for you!
It is important to note that being covered by private health in this birth setting makes a big difference in terms of cost and making decisions regarding suites, stays and medical professionals. You can choose to go to the hospital where your OB practices, or choose a hospital first, then an OB from their list of available medical professionals.
Many OB’s will employ a midwife that will help carry out scans, appointments and offering you further support through classes and consultants. During labour, it is this midwife amongst others at the hospital that will be your primary support team. You will expect to see your OB here and there before they return for the delivery of your baby.
Generally, a private hospital allows you to stay for 4 days post vaginal delivery, and 5 after a caesarean delivery. Another advantage of the private hospital is the extensive number of professionals they also have available to you. These include psychologists, physiotherapists, lactation consultant and social workers.
Here is a link to find various private hospitals within NSW.
The public maternity services are mostly covered by our fantastic healthcare system, Medicare. Though you will not be out of pocket as much as some other birthing options, you still may be required to pay for some scans, appointments, or classes.
Through the public hospital, you do not have your pick of doctor or midwife and will have a reduced amount of time spent in the suite following the birth. You may also see different doctors and midwives throughout your prenatal, birth and post-partum processes.
Options within the public hospital vary depending on location and health insurance status (as you can still birth in a public hospital with private health insurance). You generally have options as follows:
1. Clinic Care
2. Midwives Clinic
3. Shared Care
4. Midwifery Group Practice
5. Team Midwifery Care
You can find more regarding the above options and what is included and expected from each here.
Not wanting to be in the limelight of a hospital room but also wanting to be close just in case of any complications? A birth centre is just the place you can find yourself!
This setting is an incredible way to maintain privacy and minimise interventions. It also offers you security of knowing you are close by an OB and emergency medical care. These centres are most suited for those who have low-risk pregnancies.
You are cared for by a midwife, or team of midwives and have the absence of an Obstetrician. These centres are visually attached to the hospital and majority of services are again, covered by Medicare.
As with the public hospitals, you will be expected to pay for some scans, appointments, and classes. However, you are offered the same education and support as other birthing options. If there are any concerns throughout your pregnancy, an appointment with an Obstetrician is organised for you.
With the current pandemic rocking the globe, we have seen a rise in the number of women choosing to homebirth their baby.
Like Birth Centres, this is best suited to those that have low-risk pregnancies and are somewhat close by a hospital.
For a homebirth, you will require a private midwife (a midwife registered with Australian Health Practitioner Agency). This midwife will conduct all of your appointments in the comfort of your own home and generally have a second midwife to be present at the birth (and introductory sessions). For the entire costs relating to homebirths, you can expect a budget of $3500 - $6000.
There is also an option for publicly funded homebirths, however, this is not as widely available as there is a limit on the private practising midwives involved.
More information regarding homebirths and the opportunity for a publicly funded homebirth can be found here.
Also known as unassisted childbirth. This occurs when a mother chooses not to have any medical professionals or support team throughout her birth, and instead births her baby alongside her partner in the comfort of their home.
As this is less documented than those of homebirth, birth centres and the hospitals, it is hard to know the percentage of women choosing this option. There are also strong opinions on the safety and potential outcomes from free birthing. In resistance, many women choosing this option state that it is the interference of people, sounds, questions, and the western medical system that brings about an impact on safety.
An important thing to think about is whether you and your partner have the knowledge and expertise to KNOW when complications warrant further actions and knowing completely whether your pregnancy is one of high risk or not. Freebirth Australia has various resources, information and education surrounding the option of birth.