Mother duck sitting with ducklings

Birth Places

Hospital is the most common place to have a baby in Australia, with 97% of babies born either in a public or private hospital in 2018.  While hospital is the most popular place to give birth, its not the only place. It’s good to know what other options are available because they are all very different and they have various things to offer – and appeal to different people.

Below is a summary of some of the pros and cons for each birth setting. As you read through, you’ll see that the term ‘continuity of carer’ is used often, as this has been proven to have great outcomes for mothers and babies. Read the continuity of care article to learn the different types of continuity and how they can benefit you.

Don’t forget: to create your preferred model of care, you will also need to decide who you want as your primary carer. Check out the models of care page to quickly see which care providers work in different birth spaces. Go to the primary care providers page for a summary on the differences between doctors and midwives, and private or public care.

Pros Cons

Medicare will over the cost of most or all of your care if you are eligible for Medicare.

Midwifery-led care for low risk women and obstetric-led care for higher risk women

Some offer the option of Midwifery Group Practice (and continuity of carer)

Well equipped for high risk pregnancies (larger hospitals)

Most are teaching hospitals, you may be asked to have a student present/be included in research. (This may be a positive for some, with more support)

Very busy. Antenatal waiting times can be long

Some women consider hospital policies to be limiting

It is likely you will not know your care providers, unless you have a midwifery group practice midwife

Pros Cons

You can choose your obstetrician

Continuity of carer with your chosen obstetrician

Usually a private room is available after the birth and you can stay longer after birth

Can change care provider at any point

Medicare does not cover all costs. You will pay a gap

Often limited to those who have private health insurance

Some women consider hospital policies to be limiting

On average, intervention rates are higher than public hospitals

Pros Cons

In the same building/campus as the public hospital it is associated with - for quick transfer if necessary.

Midwifery-led continuity of carer with the same midwife or provided by a team of midwives.

Births are associated with less medical intervention

Midwives are supported by a full medical team

In the same building/campus as the public hospital it is associated with (less home-like, more medical-feel)

Must meet hospital policy requirements to be eligible (e.g. Low risk pregnancy)

Limited access to pharmacological pain relief

Care may be provided by people you don’t know (rare)

Pros Cons

Private midwives provide full continuity of carer and are supported by a full medical team at a nearby hospital

Can transfer to hospital if medical assistance is required/stronger pain relief is requested

Fewer policy requirements than public birth centre, to be eligible.

Births are associated with less medical intervention

Limited availability. Very few ‘free-standing’ private centres

Limited to those who can afford a private midwife

Limited access to pharmacological pain relief

Must meet birth centre policy requirements

If a transfer to hospital is required, the private midwife may no longer be your care provider. Care will likely be provided by hospital staff.

Pros Cons

Continuity of carer by public (Midwifery Group Practice) or private midwife and care providers are a guest in your home.

No traveling to hospital while in labour. No travelling home from hospital after birth.

Midwives bring specialist equipment and medications to use in case of unexpected emergency and transfer to hospital at any time is possible

Less chance of having medical intervention

Limited by availability. Not all public hospitals offer homebirth, not all areas have privately practising midwives.

Further limited to those who meet public hospital policy requirements (e.g. low risk pregnancy) or to who can afford to hire a private midwife.

No access to pharmacological pain relief at home.

If using a private midwife and a transfer to hospital is made, the midwife may no longer be your care provider.

For more information on birth places, please use these links:

*Womb does not promote any particular birth place. Womb advocates for people to have options and believes that a person’s pregnancy and birth decisions are their own – to be made with information, guidance and support from their care provider/s and family.

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