More hospitals are offering types of care that give women the chance to have a positive, ongoing relationship with health professionals.
This is because women can be happier with their birth experience when they have the same person, or group of people, looking after them through pregnancy, labour and birth. They can also have higher breastfeeding success and fewer birth interventions, including less chance of having a caesarean.
Because of the benefits known about midwifery-led care, it’s a good idea to ask your GP early in pregnancy about how this type of care might work for you.
Midwifery group practice (caseload midwifery)
A small group of public hospital midwives cares for you during your pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal period. Most of your care is given by one midwife, called a primary midwife. Your pregnancy visits might be at the hospital or in the community.
With this option, you’ll become familiar with the midwives during your pregnancy, labour and birth, even if your birth plans change – for example, you have a caesarean. The big benefit of this is that you’re able to develop a relationship with a midwife or midwives who you will know at your labour and birth and after baby is born. This is known as ‘continuity of care’.
Other benefits for women and their babies include higher breastfeeding success and fewer birth interventions.
Team midwifery care
Team midwifery care is similar to midwifery group practice. But instead of having one midwife giving most of your care, you have a team of up to eight midwives who care for you during pregnancy, labour, birth and after birth.
Where to find midwifery-led care
Most midwifery group practice and team midwifery care are in public hospitals. Some hospitals accept bookings only from the local area, and there’s usually a limit on how many women can be in the program.
Many public hospitals look at your health risks before you’re accepted into midwifery-led care. Some midwifery-led care accepts only low-risk pregnancies, but other hospitals accept all pregnancies regardless of risk.
It’s a good idea to ask your GP early in pregnancy about whether you can have one-to-one care from a midwife. You could also ask about midwife care options when you call the hospital antenatal clinic to book in your first appointment.
What midwifery-led care costs
If you’re eligible for Medicare, Medicare covers the cost of your care. The cost is the same as having your care through an outpatient hospital clinic.