To give birth in a private hospital, you need private health cover, or be prepared to pay for the service yourself. To use this option you will need to make an appointment with an obstetrician and see them in their private rooms over the course of your pregnancy. When you go into labour, you are tended to by midwives who you meet for the first time during labour. Your obstetrician attends your birth and delivers the baby if you have a caesarean. As noted in WA Health’s 2010 Mother’s and Babies report, caesarean section rates are about twice as high in private hospitals than they are in public hospitals.
40% of women in WA choose this service.
Things to consider
- You know your doctor and have continuity of obstetric care through pregnancy and some of your labour.
- Obstetricians are experts at caring for women when pregnancy or birth deviates from the normal.
- Some women prefer to labour in hospital where they feel safe.
- You have ready access to medical staff and technological aids.
- You have ready access to medical interventions such as an epidural or caesarean should you wish or require these.
- After the birth you get a single room, and you can stay up to 10 days.
- In most private hospitals your partner can stay too.
- Generally private hospitals provide good food.
- You may not meet your midwives until you are in labour.
- Obstetric training is focused on responding to the complications associated with pregnancy, labour and birth, and so a more interventionist approach tends to be taken in private obstetric-led maternity facilities.
- There is an increased chance of intervention during childbirth and a 50-60% likelihood of having a caesarean section dependent on your obstetrician.
- The number of support people you can have is often limited.
- Shifts change 7-hourly and so you are likely to meet a series of midwives during your labour and birth.
- The midwife-to-woman ratio post-natally is lower than in a public hospital as it is not regulated by the Australian Nurses Federation.
- Doctors and obstetricians working in the private system work alone, and as they tend not to be located in the hospital they must be called to attend the birth.
- You labour in unfamiliar surroundings.
- After checking out of hospital, checkups need to occur at the obstetrician’s offices.