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Some questions for mums in Australia please

(22 Posts)
Ozziegirly Wed 20-Aug-08 05:16:35

Hi there,

I have been living here for a few months and DH and I are planning to start a family within the next year, but I don't know anything about what that entails out here! So I have a few questions if you would bear with me:

1. Can you recommend a good healthcare provider which includes pregnancy expenses?

2. Do most people give birth in public hospital, private hospital or somewhere else out here?

3. When do I first see a doctor? Is it once I have a positive test or after a couple of months?

4. Is there a doula system in Australia?

5. What are the main differences between giving birth in UK and Aus?

6. Is there a book or something I could get hold of here that would kind of cover everything for me? None of my close friends have had babies and those who have all had them in the UK!

Thank you so much.

Shells Wed 20-Aug-08 05:24:21

Up the Duff by Kaz Cooke. Its great.

Ozziegirly Wed 20-Aug-08 05:28:46

Thank you! I really need info on everything and can't expect you helpful ladies to answer all my dumb questions.

Will head to Dymocks after work.

Thanks again!

Shells Wed 20-Aug-08 05:30:41

sorry ozzie. i'm in nz not australia so don't know answers to all your questions. i'm sure there'll be loads of responses soon.

Ozziegirly Wed 20-Aug-08 05:32:22

Thanks for responding - I was walking to work this morning and just realised I know nothing and it's not exactly the kind of thing I can start asking about at work..!

ILovePudding Wed 20-Aug-08 06:14:02


I'm sure you'll get lots of different information, but here are some answers to your questions from my experience.

1. I think generally you have to have been covered for 12 months before you eligible to claim for pregnancy related care. There is a website called (advertised on the tv alot by ditsy, botoxed blonde grin), where you can input the type of cover that you're after and it brings up a range of options.

I wasn't covered by private healthcare for my pregnancy. I'm not sure if this applies all over Australia, but in Sydney you either receive pre-natal care from the midwives at the hospital where you choose to give birth, or you register with a shared-care gp. These gp's have a special interest in neonatal care, and will have more experience than normal gp's. You go to them for all your routine check-ups. In the early stages of your pregnancy these are every 8 weeks. Later on they are every four weeks, then 2 weekly, then weekly for about the last 4 weeks of pregnancy, iirc. Things like ultrasounds are done at the hospital, fees can be partially recovered through medicare. You have a routine appt with an obstetrician later on in your pregnancy or as required if there are any concerns with your progress/health.

Friends who have chosen to go privately ended up paying $3-5k. The only advantage I could really see to this was there is a slight lack of continuity when you are having some check ups witha gp and some at the hospital.

2. You can have your baby where ever you choose. You can go to a private hospital, or you can be a private patient in a public hospital. Some public hostpitals will have better, more dedicated maternity units than private hospitals so you may be better off as a private patient in a public hospital, but you just have to research your local area.

There are also birthing centres, where you can choose to go if you are going for an active/natural birth. These are run by midwives, so if there are any complications requiring medical intervention you'll be transferred to hospital.

3. You can see a doctor as soon as you think you are pregnant and they will confirm the pregnancy. In my case I was a bit unprepared, so my initial visits were with an ordinary gp, I then obtained a list of share care gp's from the hospital and went from there.

4. There are doulas in australia. Not sure how to find one though. You could try googling? Or check out classifieds in pregnancy/parenting magazines.

5. I guess it depends where you are in australia. But in my experience, at RPA there are either private rooms or two beds per room in the maternity ward. Each room has it's own bathroom. Everything was very efficient, there were plenty of midwives and they were generally very friendly and helpful. The delivery room was huge and really well equipped with physio balls, bathroom, even a sofa bed for dh!

The antenatal classes were excellent and they offered classes on looking after your body during pregnancy, run by a physiotherapist. Also a breastfeeding class before the birth.

During my hospital stay there were daily classes on breastfeeding and various other areas. I got a lot of support from the midwives. As I was in good health I was able to elect to be discharged early and have a midwife visit me at home instead everyday for 5 days.

6. I really recommend Up The Duff, by Kaz Cooke. She covers everything you need to know, it's light hearted and funny but very informative.

Good luck! I'm happy to answer any other questions you have, but I have to be honest it all gets a bit foggy after a while smile

superloopy Wed 20-Aug-08 06:17:20

I'm an Aussie in Melb. I had my DD 4yo in London ( East London NHS) and I had my DS 8mo here in Melb.

I'm not sure about private health cover for pregnancy as I was 13wk preg when we moved here.

I went and signed up with a doctor when we found somewhere to live who then wrote me a referal to an Obstetrician. The hospital which I chose to have DS at had an obstetricin lead maternity ward.

I then had all of my appointments with the Obst. I had tour of the local hosptial whcih I have to say was far far far nicer than the hospital I had DD in. It was as nice as any private hospital I have seen. This is probably due to the fact the hospital is only about 15yrs old.

I'm sure the system is different in different areas and hospitals (eg midwife led units) but in my instance I felt that having DS in a public hospital was right for me and the standards were very high - very clean, private rooms, double beds, DH could stay the night if he wanted to, nice food!!

I found that while in hospital here that the staff had much more time to spend with me. Whereas in London it was almost like a conveyor belt of in, deliver, rest, get out. The staff were very busy and didn't seem to have time to help with breast feeding, or check on us more than what was minimally required.

I really cannot recommend any books sorry as I bought all of mine in the UK. I hope this has been helpful, if you have any more questions feel free to ask.

I am not aware of the use of doulas here but they might well be.

Ozziegirly Wed 20-Aug-08 06:21:40

That's so helpful, thank you so much. I kind of like the idea of being a private patient in a public hospital just in case. Or maybe a birthing centre - seems a bit scary for the first one though! I will look into private cover now as we are thinking of waiting around a year anyway to be fair (to save up!)

I presume you just pick the hospital nearest where you live? I am on the north shore in Sydney and have heard horror stories about the north shore hospital, but then everyone seems to have a horror story about somewhere!

I have been so impressed by the general standard of healthcare over here that I hoped that maternity care would be the same.

Ozziegirly Wed 20-Aug-08 06:22:49

Can I ask as well how one goes about choosing a hospital?

Ozziegirly Wed 20-Aug-08 06:23:49

Sorry - cross posted there.

superloopy Wed 20-Aug-08 06:38:02

I chose the hospital based on the fact that it was close to our home. Therefore it was eaasy to get there quickly if need be nd it was easy for DH to bring DD to visit.

Ozziegirly Wed 20-Aug-08 06:39:12

Cool, I hoped it would be as easy as that! Will have to start taking a bit more notice of where hospitals and things are!

InTheDollshouse Wed 20-Aug-08 13:52:58

Have a look at

tryingtoleave Wed 20-Aug-08 16:44:03

Hi Ozziegirly,

I had ds1 privately in Canberra. I had the highest level of private health insurance with medibank but it was still fairly expensive. $80 a visit at ob, a retainer fee of $1500 (this was nicely waived, without even asking, by my ob because he disappeared for 2 months in the middle of my pregnancy) and a $200 gap for the hospital, and quite a lot (which was unexpected) for the paediatrician who automatically checked out ds. Medicare helps a bit, but doesn't cover it all. I didn't have an anaethetist or anything like that so I don't know if that would have been more. I've since been told the retainer has gone up to around $3000 so even though I still have the private insurance I felt that I couldn't really justify the expense this time (I'm hoping the birth will be as quick and straightforward as last time) so I'm going to the public birth centre. i've been happy with the antenatal care so far.

If you do want to go private or get into a birth centre in sydney you need to go to your gp and get a referral as soon as you miss your period. If you wait too long (6 weeks is long) you will find it very hard to get in anywhere (I've been told this by friends in sydney - it's the same here in Canberra). I booked into the birth centre 3 days before my period was due and just made it in. So it is good that you are doing your research now. Find out about different obs or what kind of birth you would like, because you won't have time to think after you get a bfp.

essentialbaby is another forum site, it might be helpful.

There are doulas; I know someone who used one in the eastern suburbs.

When I read nhs birth stories on mn I am really shocked, so I think it must be better here - but as I say, my only experience so far has been private so maybe it's not comparable at all.

tryingtoleave Wed 20-Aug-08 16:49:11

I think one big difference is that you stay in hospital much longer here. I was in for 5 days, even though I was really fine. It was 7 days for a cs. The birth centre is completely different - it is only max of 24 hours. I'm happy with that for a second birth as I'll want to get home to ds, but for the first it was quite nice to be in a nice hospital getting lots of help and bfing support.

hairymcleary Thu 21-Aug-08 02:25:03

Re the health insurance question, there will normally be a waiting period of 12 months before you can claim for obstetric services. This means the due date for your baby must be 12 months after the day you signed up for medical insurance. Eg, I signed up for health insurance on 31 Jan 2008. My baby is due 3rd Feb 2009 and I am covered because the due date is outside the 12 month period. Health insurance only covers expenses you have in hospital havign your baby- outpatient visits eg seeing your obstetrican and midwife are covered (partially) by medicare. I had DS in London on the NHS and I have to say that the system is quite confusing here. The level of care seems better though! Ie, not having to wait around for 2.5 hours for a scan because they're running late!

ninedragons Thu 21-Aug-08 02:57:34

I have no experience of having given birth in Australia, but I was coming in to say what tryingtoleave did.

I was discussing the possibility of having number two in Sydney, and my cousin said if you are going to go private, you should choose the 10 best obstetricians, write their phone numbers in a list, keep it on the bedside table and THE MOMENT you have done the deed, start calling to be booked in. grin

eidsvold Thu 21-Aug-08 07:19:34

Can I also say that I know friends who went private but ended up paying a fortune for their baby's care as it was not covered by the private health insurance.

I have had three c-sections - two in Aus and one in the UK - which was also a problem pregnancy. All were public patients and I have no problems with the level of care - both antenatal and post natal.

I know here - if you want to use the birthing centre you can have no issues or 'high risk' tests results or they bounce you out to public care.

tryingtoleave Thu 21-Aug-08 13:09:28

I think that may depend on the birthing centre, eidsvold. I looked into it with mine because I am at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. They said that if you were high risk you could still use their service, the only difference was that you had to give birth in the hospital delivery suite next door. But you would still have your birth centre midwife team with you. In fact, I have a friend doing a vbac through the birth centre this way.

InTheDollshouse Thu 21-Aug-08 13:36:39

I had gestational diabetes and gave birth in a birth centre in Melbourne. They all have different policies as to what risk factors they will accept.

eidsvold Thu 21-Aug-08 21:21:19

ours had a policy of insisting that everyone wanting to use the birthing centre had to have a nuchal translucency test and it was done by lottery as so many women wanted to use it. So you put your name down and it was luck of the draw as to whether you got in or not.

Ozziegirly Fri 22-Aug-08 03:00:24

Thanks, that's all so helpful. I have bought "up the duff" as well. I'm torn about private health care. We kind of need it anyway to avoid paying the medicare levy and if it's only the due date that needs to be 12 months after joining up that's fine - we not planning on starting trying for at least 6 months in any event (mainly because of money and when our lease runs out on our flat!).

But as everyone has such positive stories about public health births maybe it's not worth it.

still, we have plenty of time - I am a planner though and like to know about these things in advance.

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