Public Birth Centre
Public birth centres are generally on-site at the public hospital and most often within the hospital walls. To birth in a public birth centre, you will generally need to have midwifery group practice care, or sometimes a private midwife may be able to attend.
Your birth room will look a bit more ‘home-like’ often with a double bed rather than a medical birthing bed, maybe access to a large bath and more space to move. Generally, you can birth in the birth centre only if you have a lower risk pregnancy. Pharmacological pain relief is not usually available here (or minimal) so if you decide you want pain relief, you will likely need to move to the labour and birthing suite. Your labour will not usually be monitored by doctors unless the midwife detects something unusual and requests assistance. If it is decided medical assistance is required, you will likely move to the labour and birthing suite where full monitoring and medical care can be given. If this occurs, you primary care provider will often transfer with you and continue your care.
Private Birth Centre
Private birth centres can be described as a home away from home and are a good option for people who want a more relaxed atmosphere than a hospital but don’t feel comfortable birthing in their own home. For others, a birth centre may be chosen because they prefer a homebirth, but it is decided, for whatever reason, that birth at home would be unsafe.
Private birth centres usually have a small group of privately practicing midwives that provide continuity of carer and you can choose which private midwife you prefer. You would also have access to any of the centres extra services, which may include labour and birth preparation classes, massage, yoga and a lending library.
Similar to a public birth centre, pharmacological pain relief is limited. Instead, private birth centres offer many other options to help manage labour surges, such as birth preparation skills during pregnancy, encouraging movement and using aromatherapy and water.
Private birth centres are generally located close to public hospitals so that if a transfer is needed, travel time can be kept to a minimum. If this occurs, your private midwife may not be able to transfer with you, and care may be provided by hospital staff.
The number of private birth centres are currently very limited across Australia.