Congratulations you’re pregnant!
So now it’s time to start thinking about where you’re going to have your baby and who you will trust to deliver it for you. One of your main decisions will be whether you want to go Public or Private. To help you make the right decision for you and your family, we have outlined what you get in both situations.
You don’t need to have private health insurance to have your baby in a public hospital. In Toowoomba, our public hospital is the Toowoomba Base Hospital. As part of the public system, you will have antenatal (pre-birth) appointments and will also birth your baby at this hospital. Public hospitals are staffed by both training and fully trained doctors and midwives. This means during your pregnancy and birthing journey, you will receive care from a range of different health professionals including junior doctors who are training to become Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, midwives and midwifery students and Consultant Obstetricians who have completed their advanced training. In most cases you won’t know, nor will you have a choice who will deliver your baby, it will depend on who is working on the day/night of your birth, and you will most likely share a room with other women who have recently given birth. Toowoomba Base also offers a midwifery group practice model to some patients meeting their entry criteria which does provide a greater degree of continuity of care.
You may see a range of Doctors or midwives each time you visit the hospital for your appointments. After the birth you can expect to be in the hospital for 1-2 days after a vaginal delivery, 2-3 days if you are recovering from a caesarean section. There are no out of pocket costs for birthing in a public hospital as all costs are covered by Medicare, providing you are an Australian resident.
If you decide you’d like to choose your own specialist doctor for continuity of care, and would like to have your baby in a private hospital, you will need to book a private Obstetrician. Obstetricians have completed all of their post graduate and specialist training and are able to manage all obstetric issues by themselves as registered specialist practitioners with The Royal Australasian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. They will have delivery rights to selected private hospitals, in Toowoomba this is St Vincent’s Private Hospital.
Patients choosing private health will usually have private health insurance with Obstetric cover (for at least a 12-month period prior to falling pregnant). Your private health insurance covers your hospital stay and part of your Obstetric fees. All appointments throughout the pregnancy will be conducted in the Obstetrician’s rooms and will become more frequent as the pregnancy progresses.
Most obstetricians will utilize an ultrasound machine at various visits to monitor the growth and development of the baby. They are adept at managing any issue that arises during the pregnancy.
One of the most important reasons women choose a private obstetrician is that they are contactable 24/7 to attend to your pregnancy needs. This ensures you will always get the best care from your chosen trusted experienced professional.
“women who gave birth in public hospitals during the past five years, 79 per cent said they were satisfied with their care, compared with 91 per cent (of 945 women) who did so in private hospitals” (from SMH JAN 2, 2010)
Who can help me choose an Obstetrician?
- Friends or family may offer recommendations based on their own experiences
- Your GP may recommend someone based on your medical history or from feedback they have received from other patients of theirs
Questions to ask when choosing an Obstetrician
- Will the Obstetrician see you at all your antenatal appointments or will it be another Doctor or a Midwife? Some practices share clinic responsibilities between Doctors and may even employ midwives to do antenatal appointments in place of the specialist.
- Will my Obstetrician deliver my baby? They may be in a shared group practice arrangement rotating nights and weekends on call – so it is important to know how frequently they handover.
- How many antenatal/postnatal appointments will there be?
- Is your Obstetrician available to be contacted all of the time and how do you contact them?
- What are the out of pocket costs – what is covered by Medicare and what is covered by your private health insurance?
- Where does the Doctor deliver? If all goes as normal you can expect to be in the hospital for 4-7 days around the birth. Private hospitals are in a position to allow for longer post-delivery stays which enhance both recovery and bonding time. Most of this time you will spend in your private room getting to know your child and how to feed and care for him or her, letting your body deal with no longer being pregnant and seeing well-wishers.
- What are the Doctor’s caesarean and vaginal birth rates? This may be an important decision if you have a preference either way.
Skills & expertise?
All doctors entitled to call themselves Obstetricians in Australia must be accredited by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). To be a member of RANZCOG usually takes at least 13 years from the point a person begins to study as a doctor, and at least 8 from the point they are fully qualified. The person must complete basic medical training at a university and teaching hospital (usually 7-8 years) and pass all of their exams, which entitles them to be called a doctor.
They must then work in a public hospital for a number of years before applying to the RANZCOG specialty training program. During the 6 years on the training program, the doctor must pass a number of exams and be signed off as competent in every obstetric and gynaecological procedure.
Following their accreditation, there is also an ongoing annual training and professional development process that must be met to maintain registration. By the time a typical obstetrician enters private practice they will have helped over 1000 babies into the world using a variety of methods.
Once you have chosen your Obstetrician and made your first appointment you need to feel confident in talking to your Obstetrician. It is important that you have confidence in your Obstetrician, their judgment, and advice, and do not feel awkward with them. You should feel comfortable raising issues about your body, your state of mind and your preferences and expectations regarding the birth.
Having a baby is one of the most significant and rewarding events in your life and it’s important you feel supported. Your Obstetrician should be confident, caring, reassuring and available to assist you throughout your pregnancy and childbirth.