Having a baby in the public system

Where will I have the baby?

In the public system you’ll probably have bubs at the nearest public hospital to home, or if it’s too busy on the big day, the one with an available bed. Depending on the hospital, the birth itself will be in a labour ward, or a birthing centre which is usually within the hospital. A caesarean birth will be in an operating theatre. You may also have the option of having the baby at home, with a hospital-supplied midwife.

How long will I stay in the hospital?

Most stays are 1 to 2 nights for an uncomplicated birth, and generally 4 nights for a caesarean.

Who’ll look after me throughout the pregnancy and birth?

A mid-wife or a team of midwives will look after you during pregnancy, labour, birth and breastfeeding. At the birth you may see a midwife you know already from appointments you’ve had. Your appointments will most likely be at the hospital.

If there are risk factors or complications, then obstetricians will provide care through pregnancy and or birth. However, you may not be able to see the same one for each appointment. You may also be able to get ‘shared care’ — this is when your GP offers you pregnancy care in collaboration with a hospital.

Will I get my own room after the birth?

Although some public hospitals have single rooms, these are generally given to patients in the most medical need. It’s fairly unlikely to get your own room in the public system.

How much can I expect to pay?

As long as you have a Medicare card, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to pay any costs at all. However if you have services that are not bulk billed, you might have to pay for them.

What about things like TENS machines, massages and pre and postnatal classes?

These aren’t covered in the public system, and you’ll have to pay for them yourself. However, you might be able to claim on these costs if they are included in your private health insurance.