- Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose where you give birth.
- You may be able to choose the types of health professional or team that will care for you during your pregnancy.
- If you travel a long distance from home, you might be able to claim some travel and accommodation costs through the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme.
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people may be able to access special programs such as Birthing on Country.
What are my options for maternity services?
In rural and remote New South Wales, you can often choose the type of health professional or team you would like to care for you during your pregnancy and at the birth.
You can choose between 4 types of maternity services:
- Publicly-funded midwives work in a midwifery group practice at local hospitals or health centres. Most public hospitals offer continuity of care programs through midwives. This means that the same midwife or team of midwives will care for you. Some public hospital midwifery group practices also offer homebirth services.
- Privately-practising registered midwives may be covered by Medicare and may work together with other health practitioners.
- Your doctor may be able to share the care with the midwives and doctors at a local hospital. This is known as a ‘shared care’ arrangement.
- A private obstetrician can provide medical care during pregnancy and birth, and may work at either a public or a private hospital.
Most people find It best to have the same health professional or team caring for them throughout their pregnancy, birth and early parenting.
To help you choose the type of care that is best for you, and to read about pregnancy, birth and feeding your baby, see the Having a Baby book from NSW Health.
Where can I give birth?
It’s your choice where to give birth. You can discuss the best option for you with your doctor or midwife. The option your doctor or midwife recommends may depend on where you live and if your pregnancy is considered low- or high-risk.
Your options might include one or more of the following:
- Maternity care at public hospitals is usually provided by midwives. Doctors are also available if you or your baby need them. The costs of care in a public hospital are usually covered by Medicare. Some public hospitals also provide private care. This means you can choose your own private doctor or obstetrician to care for you. If you choose private care, private health insurance can help you cover some of the costs.
- Some private hospitals also have maternity services. If you have private health insurance, it may help cover the cost of private care.
- A public birth centre is suitable for people with healthy low-risk pregnancies. The costs are usually covered by Medicare. You can choose to be transferred to hospital during labour if you change your mind or if there are problems.
- A home birth may be an option for people with healthy low-risk pregnancies. You can choose to go to hospital during labour if there are problems or if you request it. Talk to your local hospital or health facility to find out what help you can get if you need it. Some costs for eligible midwives are covered by Medicare.
Find information on the hospitals and health services in your area.
What support is there for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people?
Birthing on country
Birthing on country is a program that encourages health services to offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access to culturally appropriate maternity care. This will mean different things to different people in different parts of Australia. Ask your local midwife, Aboriginal health service, hospital, birthing centre, or primary health network about what is available.
What if I need to travel long distances to give birth?
It is safer for you and your baby to be close to a hospital, so if you need to travel a long distance to give birth, try to plan ahead.
If the hospital is a long distance from your home, you might be able to claim back some of your travel and accommodation expenses. This is available through the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).
Resources and support
For more information on the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme, call 1800 478 227.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: April 2023