Public hospitals are government funded so birthing there will cost you nothing if you have a Medicare card. Antenatal appointments take place at the hospital or with your family GP (if they work within the public-health system). You will go to the hospital once you are in established labour.
Women who birth in a public hospital are cared for under a collaborative arrangement which includes midwifery and obstetric care (if required). Public hospitals tend to have midwifery led care models. While there are plans to roll out continuity of care models for women in public hospitals, as it stands now you will generally meet your midwife for the first time when you go into labour.
60% of WA women choose this service.
Things to consider
- Interventions or caesarean sections tend to be performed only if deemed necessary – there is an 18-25% likelihood of a caesarean.
- Doctors are in residence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at King Edward Memorial Hospital.
- The ratio of midwives to women post-natally is better in public hospitals than in private hospitals as they are regulated by the Australian Nursing Federation.
- It is a very good option for women with a high risk pregnancy.
- Some women feel safer in hospital than at home.
- There is ready access to specialist obstetric care if required.
- There is ready access to pain relief such as epidurals.
- A midwife visits you at home for up to 5 days after your baby’s birth.
- There is little continuity of care – you usually see a different midwife or doctor on every visit and there is little chance you will know your labour and birth midwife – the shift changes 8 hourly.
- Partners are welcome but not usually allowed to stay overnight.
- Most public hospitals have some shared rooms (4 beds).
- Public hospitals can be very busy, and care can feel impersonal.
- You may not be able to walk around during labour and to get into any position you choose – especially if you want to have an epidural.
- You are discharged after one day if you have a vaginal delivery, or three days if you have a caesarean section.
- You only have up to four days of home support from a hospital midwife after the delivery.