Having a baby in the ACT
Find out what you need to know about having a baby in the ACT. From seeing a doctor, midwife or obstetrician to finding a hospital, this guide will help you during your pregnancy.
When you think you are pregnant, your first step is to see your doctor. They will be able to discuss your pregnancy with you including the care and birth options available to you. Your doctor can also organise the initial blood tests and ultrasounds, and will continue to provide your general health care no matter where you decide to have your baby.
If you are considering using the public health system as opposed to a private obstetrician, when you are around 10 to 12 weeks pregnant, you can call 02 5124 9977 to arrange to meet with a midwife at a community centre close to your home. The midwife will assess your health and wellbeing and talk to you about what public pregnancy and birthing options are available.
After your meeting with the midwife, the midwife will advise you on maternity options for you and help you to find the best care. You don’t need to book directly with a hospital or model of care.
Your antenatal care (the care you receive during your pregnancy) will start at either Centenary Hospital for Women and Children or Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce. The hospital will contact you to arrange your first appointment.
If you have complex needs, your doctor can refer you to the Fetal Medicine Unit at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.
Options for pregnancy care and childbirth2>
Your doctor may be able to provide antenatal care in conjunction with a midwife. This is called ‘shared care’ and is available at both of the public hospitals. You will see your doctor at their practice for most of your pregnancy check-ups and will see the midwife or doctor at the antenatal clinic at the hospital. If there are complications, you may be referred to an obstetrician.
Your baby will be born in a birth suite, with medical staff available. Afterwards you will be cared for in the postnatal ward.
Midwives are healthcare professionals specially trained to provide care throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period. Midwives work in the public health system or privately as independently practising midwives. If a midwife is your primary carer, they will liaise with other healthcare practitioners as needed. Even if a midwife is not your primary carer this does not exclude you from consulting a midwife.
Midwifery care is available at both hospitals. Private midwifery care is also available in the Canberra area.
You can choose to have your baby in a birth centre (available at both hospitals) or birth suite (at the Centenary Hospital only).
Fetal Medicine Unit
If your pregnancy is complex or high risk, you may be referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit at the Centenary Hospital. Here specialist doctors will look after you and your baby.
Specialist Team Care
If you need it, your midwife or doctor may refer you to Specialist Team Care, where you are cared for by a team of midwives, medical staff and allied health staff. You will give birth in the birth suite. Specialist Team Care is provided by both hospitals.
The ACT is running a 3-year trial for women to have their babies at home, supported by a midwife. A primary midwife will look after you through the pregnancy and birth. You need to meet certain eligibility criteria and live within 15 minutes of Centenary Hospital.
Obstetricians are medical specialists who are trained in the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth. Midwives or doctors may consult them in the event of complications. Obstetricians can provide pregnancy care and attend your baby’s birth in a public or private hospital. If you need or choose to see an obstetrician, you can attend a public hospital antenatal clinic or be referred by a doctor to see one privately.
Not all private obstetricians practise at all Canberra hospitals. When booking with a private obstetrician you will need to ask which hospital/s you are able to birth at.
Listed below are web links to where you can obtain antenatal care in the ACT.
Centenary Hospital for Women and Children (at Canberra Hospital), Garran ACT
Calvary Public Hospital, Bruce ACT
Calvary Bruce Private Hospital, Bruce ACT
Calvary John James Hospital, Deakin ACT
Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby
Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby provides information, advice and support 7am and midnight (AET), all year round. Speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call.
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Last reviewed: December 2020