Maternity services in rural Queensland
If you are pregnant and live in rural or remote Queensland, you can use this page to find out how to get care and support during your pregnancy, labour and birth. You’ll also find links to websites where you can get more information to suit your individual circumstances.
Your choice of caregivers
In rural and remote Queensland, 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.
Depending on where you live, you can be cared for by:
- publicly funded midwives, such as those in a midwifery group practice at local hospitals or a health centre
- privately practising registered midwives, who might be covered by Medicare
- 'shared maternity care' involving your doctor and the midwives and doctors at a local hospital
- a private obstetrician
It is best for you and your baby if you have the same caregiver throughout your pregnancy, birth and early parenting.
The type of care you receive is known as a 'model of maternity care'.
Options for place of birth
Depending on the area you live in and whether your pregnancy is low or high risk, you might be able to choose the place where you give birth. Weigh up the decision with your partner, family and doctor or health professional. There are 4 options:
- In a public hospital, where your maternity care can usually be shared among some combination of your doctor, hospital doctors, midwives and obstetricians. It is usually free, with costs covered by Medicare. Some public hospitals also provide private care, which means you can choose your own private obstetrician or midwife to care for you. However, you might need private health insurance to access the private care option. A map of Queensland’s rural and remote public hospitals and health services is available from Queensland Health.
- A private hospital offers similar services, but you’ll need private health insurance in place before you become pregnant to cover the cost.
- A public birth centre is suitable for healthy low-risk pregnancies. The costs are covered by Medicare. There are birth centres at Toowoomba, Townsville and Mackay. You can be transferred to hospital during labour if complications arise or if you request it.
- A home birth may be suitable for healthy low-risk pregnancies. You can be transferred to hospital during labour if complications arise or if you request it. Some costs for eligible midwives are covered by Medicare. If home birth is an option for you, it is important to have a plan if you need urgent care (see below).
If your pregnancy is thought to be high risk, you will need to be close to a hospital that offers specialist services. Talk to your doctor or a midwife about this.
Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
Birthing on country
Birthing on country is a program that encourages health services to offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the chance to have a culturally appropriate birth. That will mean different things to different women in different parts of Australia. Ask your local midwife, Aboriginal health service, hospital, birthing centre or primary health network what is available where you live.
Travelling long distances to give birth
If you need to travel a long distance to a hospital or health facility to give birth, you should plan ahead carefully. It’s safer for you and your baby to be within an hour of a hospital. Unfortunately, this might mean it’s difficult for you to stay at home towards the end of your pregnancy.
Talk to your local hospital or health facility to find out what help you can get if you need it urgently. You might need to find out what road or air ambulance services are available, and/or make a back-up booking during pregnancy at the nearest large hospital. Some rural and remote centres may be visited by the Queensland Flying Obstetric/Gynaecology Service and/or Newborn Emergency Transport Services.
A back-up plan is particularly important if you’re planning a home birth. You and your midwife need to have a practical plan in case of unexpected events. If you can’t work out a back-up plan, then it’s not a good idea to go ahead with a home birth.
If you need to travel a long distance from home to access care, you might be able to claim back some of your travel and accommodation expenses through the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS).
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Last reviewed: December 2021