- Depending on where you live, you may have different choices of who will care for you during your pregnancy and during the birth of your baby.
- If you need to travel a long distance from home for maternity care, you might be able to claim some travel and accommodation costs through the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS).
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people may be able to access special programs such as Birthing on Country — ask your doctor or health worker for more information.
What are my options for maternity services?
You can choose who will care for you during your pregnancy, labour and birth.
If you are pregnant and live in rural Victoria, you may be able to choose between:
- publicly funded midwives, such as those in a midwifery group practice at a local hospital or health centre. Most public hospitals offer continuity of care programs through midwives. This means the same midwife or team of midwives will care for you while you are pregnant. Access to a hospital-based midwife usually needs a doctor’s referral. Some public hospital midwifery group practices also offer home birth services.
- privately practising registered midwives, who might be covered by Medicare
- your GP, who might offer 'shared maternity care' with the midwives and doctors at a local hospital
- a private obstetrician (a specialist doctor) at a public or a private hospital
It is best for you and your baby if you have the same health professional or team caring for you throughout your pregnancy, birth and early parenting.
To help choose the type of care best for you, see the Department of Health and Aged Care website.
Where can I give birth?
It’s your choice where to give birth.
Depending on where you live and whether your pregnancy is low or high risk, you might be able to choose between the following options:
- Public care in a public hospital. The cost of care is usually covered by Medicare. In some hospitals your doctor may be able to share the care with hospital staff.
- Private care in a public hospital. This means you can choose your own private obstetrician or doctor to care for you. Private health insurance can help you cover the costs. See thismap of Victoria’s public hospitals and health facilitiesthat offer maternity services.
- Public birth centre. This is suitable for healthy, low-risk pregnancies. The costs are covered by Medicare. You can be transferred to hospital during labour if there are complications or if you request it. For more information, ask your doctor or midwife.
- Private care in a private hospital that offers maternity services. Private health insurancecan help you cover some of the cost. If you have any complications, you may need to be transferred to a public hospital.
- Home birth. This may be suitable for healthy, low-risk pregnancies. You can be transferred to hospital during labour ifyou change your mind or if there are any problems. Some costs for eligible midwives are covered by Medicare.
Rural hospitals may be serviced by the Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval (PIPER) service.
If your pregnancy is considered high-risk, your doctor may recommend that you give birth in a hospital that offers specialist services.
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/or Torres Strait Islander people the chance to access safe and culturally appropriate maternity services. That will mean different things to different women in different parts of Australia.
For more information, ask your local midwife, Aboriginal health service, hospital or primary health network about what is available, or see the Aboriginal maternity services page on the Health Victoria website.
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 close to your due date. So if you need to travel a long distance to give birth, try to plan ahead.
If the hospital is a long way from your home, you might be able to claim back some of your travel and accommodation expenses. This is accessed through Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS).
Resources and support
The Royal Women’s Hospital provides information on pregnancy care and birthing options.
For general information and support, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 at any time during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby’s video call service allows you to speak face-to-face with a maternal child health nurse. Video call is a free service and is available from 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week (including public holidays).
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Last reviewed: April 2023