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Maternity services in rural Victoria

4-minute read

If you are pregnant and live in rural Victoria, 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 Victoria, 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 a local hospital or health centre
  • privately practising registered midwives, who might be covered by Medicare
  • your doctor, who might offer 'shared maternity care' along with 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. Having the same midwife care for you is known to be particularly beneficial.

The type of care you receive is known as a 'model of maternity care'. Find out more about choosing your model of care.

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 where you give birth. Weigh up the decision with your partner, family and doctor or other health professional. There are four options:

  • In a public hospital, your maternity care will be given by midwives and doctors. Sometimes, it can also be shared between your doctor and the hospital staff. Maternity care in public hospitals 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. See this map of Victoria’s public hospitals and health facilities that offer maternity services.
  • A public birth centre is suitable for women with healthy, low-risk pregnancies. The costs are covered by Medicare. You can be transferred to hospital during labour if complications arise or if you request it.
  • A private hospital offers similar services, but you’ll need private health insurance in place before you become pregnant to cover the cost.
  • A home birth can 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 your pregnancy is thought to be high risk, you will need to plan to give birth in a hospital that offers specialist services. Talk to your doctor or a midwife about this.

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. For more information, ask your local midwife, Aboriginal health service, hospital or primary health network about what is available where you live, or see Aboriginal maternity services on the Health Victoria website.

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. Unfortunately, this might mean it’s difficult for you to stay at home towards the end of your pregnancy.

If you’re considering a home birth, it’s important that you and your midwife have a back-up plan in case unexpected events occur.

Talk to your local hospital or health facility to find out what help you can get if you need it urgently. It's a good idea to find out what ambulance services are available, and make a back-up booking during pregnancy at the nearest large hospital. Rural hospitals may be visited by the Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval (PIPER) service.

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 Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS).

More information

Read more about Having a baby in Victoria.

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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