Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Maternity care in Australia

Read this article in: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Vietnamese

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you might wonder what care and support will be available to you. This article describes options for pregnancy care, where to give birth and the costs involved – so you can make the choices that are best for you.

What is antenatal care?

Antenatal care is the care you receive during pregnancy. If you have just found out you are pregnant, it’s important to see your doctor (GP) or midwife to start your antenatal care.

Antenatal appointments are important even if you are healthy and your pregnancy is going well.

They allow your midwife or GP to check your health and your baby’s health so they can find and treat any problems early on. These appointments are also a good opportunity for you to ask questions and talk about any concerns you have.

The first antenatal appointment

It’s best to make your first antenatal appointment when you are about 6 to 8 weeks pregnant. This appointment can be with a midwife, your GP or at a clinic or hospital.

At this appointment, the doctor or midwife will confirm that you are pregnant. They will do a thorough health check, including asking about your medical history and your family’s medical history. They will also give you important information about your pregnancy care.

They may also offer you tests to check for anything that may cause problems during pregnancy or labour – you can decide whether or not to have the tests.

Find out more here about the check-ups, tests and scans you will have during your antenatal visits.

You will have antenatal visits throughout your pregnancy. Most women who have uncomplicated pregnancies have 8 to 10 appointments.

Who will you see during your pregnancy?

There are 3 types of health professionals that could look after you during your pregnancy, depending on where you are having your baby and your health needs.

A midwife is specially trained to support and care for women during pregnancy, labour and birth. Midwives work in public and private hospitals, with obstetricians, and in the community. They help you to stay healthy in pregnancy. If there are no complications, they can help you to give birth too. Midwives also care for you and your baby in the first few weeks after the birth.

General practitioners (GPs) are medical doctors who promote general health and treat many different health problems. Often the GP will be the first health professional you see if you think you are pregnant.

Some GPs offer shared care, where you see your GP as well as midwives or obstetricians for your pregnancy care. If you live in a rural or remote area, your GP might provide all of your pregnancy care as well as deliver your baby.

An obstetrician is a doctor who is specially trained to look after women and babies during pregnancy, birth and straight after birth. You might choose to have an obstetrician look after you throughout your pregnancy and to deliver your baby. If you are having your baby in a public hospital, you might only see an obstetrician if there is a medical need.

Where can you have your baby?

There are several options for where you could have your baby. Most women will give birth in a public or private hospital, either in a labour ward or at a birthing centre.

Most hospitals offer antenatal classes as part of your care. It’s best to book into the hospital or birth centre as soon as your GP or midwife confirms your pregnancy.

Where you live may affect the options you have for where to give birth. For example, if you live in a rural or remote location your choices may be more limited.

It’s important to do your research and do what’s right for you. You can talk it through with your GP, or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.

Going to hospital

If it’s your first pregnancy, you may feel unsure about when you should go into hospital or the birth centre. The best thing to do is to call the hospital or birth centre for advice.

You will probably stay in hospital from one to several days. How long you stay will depend on your recovery, whether you have had a caesarean birth, and whether you or your baby have any complications.

How much does it cost?

The cost of having a baby will vary depending if you have your baby in the public or private system. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

In Australia, pregnancy care in a public hospital or birth centre is free because it is covered by Medicare, which covers Australian citizens and some visitors to Australia. But you won’t be able to choose your doctor or midwife.

In the private system, you can choose your doctor, but you will need to pay for the care or take out private health insurance. Medicare and your health fund will cover some of the costs of a private hospital stay, but you may still have to pay extra fees (known as 'out-of-pocket' costs).

Be sure to check that your private health insurance covers maternity care and if there is a waiting time before you can claim.

It can be difficult to understand the costs of different care options. Talk to your doctor, hospital or health fund if you are unsure, or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.

Support and advice

For information, advice and support during your pregnancy:

Last reviewed: May 2019

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Maternity care in Australia

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, find out what care, support and services may be available to you in Australia.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Antenatal care during your pregnancy

You receive antenatal care from your GP, midwife or obstetrician. You’ll be offered tests and scans and your health and your baby’s will be checked.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Week by week pregnancy- antenatal care at 7 weeks pregnant

Your doctor can look at your foetus’s features to determine how old they are – find out how. You need to talk to your doctor if you experience very severe morning sickness as you may not be getting all the nutrients you and your baby need or early pregnancy spotting (spot bleeding) as you may be at risk of miscarriage.

Read more on Parenthub website

Pregnancy at week 7

Your baby is now about 1cm long and if you haven’t seen your doctor yet, now is a good time to start your antenatal care.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

What does your GP do in pregnancy care?

Your doctor, or GP, is likely to be the first health professional you see when you become pregnant, and may help with your antenatal care.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Checkups, scans and tests during pregnancy

Handy infographic that shows what you can expect at each antenatal appointment during your pregnancy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Your first antenatal visit

Find out what will happen and what you can learn during your first antenatal care visit with your GP or midwife.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy checkups, screenings and scans

Knowing what check-ups, screenings and scans to have and when to have them during your pregnancy is important information for every pregnant woman.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy: blood tests, ultrasound & more | Raising Children Network

In pregnancy, you’ll be offered blood tests, ultrasound scans, urine tests and the GBS test. Pregnancy tests identify health concerns for you and your baby.

Read more on website

Pregnancy care for migrant and refugee women | Australian Government Department of Health

While many migrant and refugee women experience healthy pregnancies, issues associated with resettlement can contribute to poorer perinatal outcomes than those experienced by women in general.

Read more on Department of Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo