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Maternity services in rural South Australia

5-minute read

If you are a pregnant and live in rural or remote South Australia, you can use the information on 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 find out more information to suit your individual circumstances.

Your choice of caregivers

If you are a pregnant and live In rural and remote South Australia, 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 might have four choices:

  • There are publicly funded midwives, such as those in a midwifery group practice at the local hospitals or health centre. Some public hospital midwifery group practices also offer home birth services. For more information see Midwifery group practices in SA offering home birth.
  • An independent registered midwife, who might be covered by Medicare, can help you. There aren’t a lot of independent midwives in South Australia, but some might be willing to travel to care for you at home. For more information see Independent registered midwives in SA.
  • Your GP might offer 'shared maternity care' along with the midwives and doctors at a local hospital.
  • A private obstetrician can care for you, at a public or private hospital.

It is best for you and your baby if you have the same caregiver throughout your pregnancy, birth and early parenting. To help choose what is best for you, see Types of care during pregnancy and birth in South Australia.

Where can I give birth?

Depending on where you live and whether your pregnancy is low or high risk, you might be able to choose the place you give birth in. Weigh up the decision with your partner, family and doctor or health professional. There are options.

  • In a public hospital, you will receive maternity care from hospital midwives and doctors. If medical care is needed It is usually free, with costs covered by Medicare. In some hospitals, your doctor may be able to share the care with hospital staff. Some public hospitals also provide private care, which means you can choose your own doctor or private obstetrician to care for you. However, you might need private health insurance to access the private care option. If you develop any complications or risk factors during pregnancy you may need to see specialist doctors and midwives in public hospitals at Berri, Mt Gambier, Port Lincoln, Whyalla or Adelaide.
  • A private hospital offers similar services, and some have birthing centre suites. But you’ll need private health insurance in place before you become pregnant to cover the cost. Some will not be able to care for you if you have complications, and will need to transfer you to a public hospital.
  • A home birth can be suitable for women with healthy low-risk pregnancies. You can be transferred to hospital during labour if complications arise or if you request it. For more information on planned home birth in South Australia, see Planned home birth.

If your pregnancy is considered high risk, you will need to be close to a hospital that offers specialist services. Talk to your doctor or a midwife about this.

For information on the hospitals and health services in your area, see Hospitals and health services - country South Australia.

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 less stressful and safer for you and your baby to be within an hour of a hospital that provides maternity care. Unfortunately, this might mean it’s difficult for you to stay at home towards the end of your pregnancy.

Even when you have chosen to have a home birth, talk to your midwife or staff at your nearest 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. It may be wise to also make a back-up booking during pregnancy at the nearest large hospital.

For information on hospitals and health services in rural South Australia see: Hospitals and health services - country South Australia.

If you need to travel more than 100 km from home to access specialist care, you may be able to claim back some of your travel and accommodation expenses through the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

More information

At any time during your pregnancy, you can call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 or try video call to speak face-to-face with one of our maternal child health nurses. Video call is available 7am to midnight (AEST), 7 days a week and is free of charge. To find out more, visit our video call page.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2018


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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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