Whether you are planning on having a baby, or are already pregnant, it is a big decision choosing the best maternity care provider for yourself, partner and your baby.
In Australia, maternity care includes pre-conception, antenatal (during pregnancy), intrapartum (during labour), and postnatal (after birth) care for women and babies up to six weeks after birth. This care is provided in a variety of public and private settings. In the public sector, maternity care provision can be by a midwife, or GP shared care. In the private sector, maternity care is primarily provided by an obstetrician, who is a doctor who has undergone extensive specialist training in providing medical care before, during and after childbirth. You may also see a midwife for some of your appointments.
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you have decided to head down the private obstetric maternity care route. This blog aims to help you make the right decision for you and your growing family when choosing an obstetrician.
Before you consider private obstetric care, it’s a good idea to check your health insurance cover. Private health funds usually require membership with maternity cover for at least one year before they will cover you for maternity services.
The most common reasons that influence a woman’s choice of obstetrician include:
Recommendations from friends, family, or your GP / obstetrician’s reputation
Speak to friends and other mothers about their birth experiences. One of the primary influencers on a woman’s choice of obstetrician is word of mouth. Just remember though, what were important aspects of care to your friend or sister, may not align with your own personal beliefs, so first consider what key elements of care you want in a care provider.
Women (and partners) often want to be involved in decision-making about the care for them and their baby. The way you birth your baby is a personal choice based on many factors. Do you wish to have an elective caesarean section, a waterbirth, or wish to be induced on a particular date? If this is the case, it is important to first do your own research from reputable websites and other sources, rather than relying on social media or advice from well-meaning friends and relatives. You can then discuss your questions and preferences for mode of birth with your obstetrician.
Confidence in their expertise and experience
What is their background and experience? Do they have a specialty area such as multiple births, high risk pregnancies etc?
Feeling confident that you will be well looked after, particularly if things didn’t go to plan in the pregnancy, labour or birth. Some women describe feeling more comfortable knowing they have their own obstetrician throughout their pregnancy, and that if complications arise, they will be with someone they know and trust.
Do you feel comfortable with them?
If you chose an obstetrician, and after meeting them you don’t feel like your personalities match, or that their plan for your pregnancy and birth care is not in alignment with your expectations, then it is entirely acceptable to change obstetricians. You need to feel confident in talking to your obstetrician, feel listened to, feel that they understand the needs and concerns of your family, and that their advice is congruent with your expectations.
Which hospital does the obstetrician offer birth services?
You may already have in mind the hospital where you would like to birth your baby. Contact the private maternity hospitals or check on their websites, as most hospitals have a list of visiting medical officers (VMOs). The obstetricians at Eve Health having visiting rights at the Mater Mothers’ Private Hospital and The Wesley Hospital.
Continuity of care
The obstetrician of your choosing will provide your care throughout pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period, enabling you to develop a trusting relationship with your care provider. Although no clinician can promise to be on call 100% of the time due to the demanding nature of the business.
Availability & on-call cover arrangements
At your first appointment, ask your obstetrician if they are available for all of your antenatal appointments, and for the birth. Are they on holidays at any time during your pregnancy? Ask about their on-call cover arrangements.
Ask whether they are part of an obstetric group/team that share similar ethos. Enquire as to what happens on weekends and when obstetricians are on holidays? There are nine obstetricians at Eve Health who are on a rotating roster on weekends. During the week and at night, the obstetricians are on-call for their own women and will be contacted by the midwives at the Mater Mothers’ Private or The Wesley if needed. At Eve Health we are very proud to share that 94% of women have their chosen obstetrician at their baby’s birth*. On the rare occasion that your obstetrician is unable to be there for your birth, you can rest assured that another Eve Health obstetrician, who knows and understands your personal case, will be there to care for you with the same skill and expertise you can expect from all Eve obstetricians. If your obstetrician is away at any time during your pregnancy, you may be booked in to see another Eve Health obstetrician or midwife.
*Based on deliveries by Eve Health obstetricians between April 2018 to January 2019.
Access to regular ultrasounds
Most obstetricians will do an ultrasound scan of your baby at each appointment. This can be one of the highlights of your routine reviews at Eve Health! Although it might not be a diagnostic ultrasound, many obstetricians offer this as a standard part of their care in your pregnancy.
Geographical location of obstetrician
The location of the practice may be more convenient for you than having appointments at a hospital. You may wish to consider the proximity of the obstetric practice to your home or work. You will have approximately 12-16 appointments throughout your pregnancy, and they will be more frequent towards the end of your pregnancy, so you want location to be convenient. Additionally, consider car parking availability, or access to public transport.
Check with your obstetrician about what to expect regarding fees for the following services: hospital admission, pregnancy management fee, medical fees including anaesthetist and paediatrician costs, diagnostic fees (ultrasound and blood tests). It’s good to find out up front what your out-of-pocket expenses might be, rather than getting a surprise invoice at the end! Feel free to contact us at Eve Health to enquire about our obstetrician fee schedule.
Appointment waiting times
When seeing a private obstetrician, there is often flexibility in making appointments, and waiting times are usually shorter than in public clinics (bearing in mind that occasionally they do have to ‘duck out’, postpone, or reschedule your appointment to meet a baby). It may be your baby that your obstetrician will need to deliver on a particular day!
In some instances, women may prefer one particular gender obstetrician over another. This may be influenced by things such as culture, religion, previous experience, or purely personal choice. If this where you place your importance, for example having a woman only doctor, you must consider whether they work with other female obstetricians for on-call cover. Even then, it may not be possible for a female obstetrician to be available if your obstetrician is not on-call.
Does your obstetrician work with other women’s health professionals, or have an allied health referral network? Eve Health offer an holistic and multidisciplinary approach to our care. Our obstetricians are supported by in-house midwives, specialist physiotherapists, a dietician and psychologist, all of whom are available throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
If planning a vaginal birth, you will be cared for by a hospital midwife who will communicate with your obstetrician about your progress and needs, and who will contact your obstetrician when it is time for you to birth your baby.
Eve Health offers a number of obstetricians, all with different personality types, previous experience, and special interests, and we would love to help you find the right practitioner for you. We strive to make your pregnancy journey as smooth and stress-free as possible and support you 100% throughout this life-changing event. If you would like to find out more about the obstetricians at Eve Health, please have a read through their biographies at https://evehealth.com.au/team/
You can also talk to your GP or call us on 07 3332 1999 and our friendly staff will help you.
Blog post by Paula Dillon, Midwife