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Maternity services in rural Western Australia

5-minute read

If you are pregnant and live in rural or remote Western Australia, you can use this page to find out how to get care and support during your pregnancy, labour and birth. The page also has links to websites where you can get more information to suit your circumstances.

Your choice of caregivers

In rural and remote Western 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. There are 4 possible choices:

  • publicly funded midwives, who work in midwifery group practices at local hospitals and in the community
  • private practice midwives, who can be used for low-risk home births, but are not linked to hospitals or the Community Midwifery Program. Find out if their fees are covered by Medicare
  • ‘shared maternity care’ involving your doctor along with the midwives and doctors at a local hospital
  • obstetricians who work at some public and some private hospitals

It is best for you and your baby to have the same caregiver throughout your pregnancy, birth and early parenting. Some public hospitals offer continuity of care programs with midwives, which means the same midwife or team of midwives will care for you.

To help you choose the type of care that is best for you, see your maternity care options.

Where can I give 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 you give birth in. Weigh up the decision with your partner, family and doctor or health professional. There are four options in rural Western Australia.

  • In a public hospital, you can be cared for by hospital midwives, and by doctors if necessary. 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. You might need private health insurance to access the private care option.
  • A 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 if you want to cover some of the cost.
  • A home birth can be suitable for women with healthy low-risk pregnancies. You can be transferred to hospital during labour if you’d like, or if there are problems. 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.

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.

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 Assisted Travel 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 2020


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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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