Pregnant and Having a baby in Australia

You are currently in Australia and found out that you are pregnant.  Congratulations!  A fantastic journey has begun.

I decided to write about my own pregnancy journey in Sydney, Australia as a result of many questions in German Groups that I follow on Facebook and beyond.  The reason for this blog post to be in English though is, that I am sure other monther´s to be from abroad can benefit from a bit of an insider information.

Getting your pregnancy confirmed and choosing a care system

If you are on Medicare, in Australia you get your pregnancy confirmed by a GP (General Practitioner) instead of a Gynaecologist. At first this was a bit strange to me because in Germany this is being handled by a Gynaecologist.

If you did not meet with your GP before you were pregnant and have done a home test that showed you were positive you immediately make an appointment for about 5-8 weeks after you had your last menstrual period. It might not be unusual that the GP does not do extra tests, whether it be a blood or urine test, as the home pregnancy tests are pretty accurate these day.  If you are anything like me you already used two different brands anyway.

Antenatal Shared Care or Midwifery Group Program?

Decision time! Your GP will discuss with you the two options of Antenatal Care.

In Shared Care your GP is affiliated with a hospital and midwives and doctors from the antenatal clinic.  For this option of care you would generally see your GP as well as a midwife through a schedule of regular visits.  Women who undertake shared maternity care will see their shared maternity care general practitioner for most of their antenatal care.

Download the schedule I followed below.  My program is lined out for the Royal Hospital for Women (RHW) in Randwick, Sydney. I am admitted to this hospital as this is the closest to where I live.

Your GP shared care team follows  the established best practice guidelines. If the need arises you will of course be referred to the hospital doctors and specialists.

Shared care is a popular choice for healthy women with a normal pregnancy. In choosing shared care you have most of your appointments close to your home and build a relationship with your doctor which continues after your baby is born. This also means more flexible times and fewer hospital visits.

In the Midwifery Group Practice model continuity of midwifery care is provided by a small group of midwives who are on call for you throughout your pregnancy, birth and early postnatal period at home.  You will be allocated a primary midwife but will also meet the other midwives in your group as they could provide some of your care.   The aim of Midwifery Group Practice is to provide you with a known midwife for your birth and postnatal care at home.

Midwives are trained specialists in normal pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care.  For most women your group of midwives will be able to provide the majority of your care.  However, if the need for medical consultation or referral arises, each group practice is supported by an Obstetric Consultant.  Your midwifery group will continue to support you, working alongside the doctors to maintain continuity for you.  You can give birth in a birth centre or delivery suite.

Be aware that spots are limited.  So call as early as possible to book your group program or put your name on the waiting list. Myself, I didn´t get in to the program and I am now in Shared Care.

The hospital will organise all your hospital appointments.  You have to schedule to your own GP appointments.


Download here the RHW Shared Maternity Care

Pregnancy Apps 

When I found out that I was pregnant I immediately downloaded the Pregnancy+ app and loved it. It was the first app I opened in the morning to find out the development of my baby and to learn about what is changing in my body.

I also used BabyCenter which is a great one too with lots of tips.

  • How your body changes
  • Being healthy
  • Daily medical experts every day
  • See what your baby looks like each week with detailed baby development images and video
  • Connect with other mums-to-be due the same month as you and learn from each other
  • Upload weekly pics of your growing belly

Folic Acid – the pregnancy vitamin

Folic Acid is called the pregnancy vitamin as it is indispensable for cell growth. Folic acid is available through a healthy diet but known to be not enough for when you are pregnant.  It ensures that the neural tube of a newborn closes completely. From Germany I used this  Folic Acid product. I started with phase one already when I had the wish to become pregnant then extended to phase two.

Here in Australia you might get recommendation for Elevit which is a vitamin and minerals supplement and I know a few women taking it.

I mention those two as some women might want to grab the Folio Folic Acid while visiting Germany. It´s available at our local Drogerie stores (drug store) like DM, Rossmann, Müller for a good price.

Ultrasounds

The discussion about how many ultrasounds are necessary or one should have came up a lot in the Facebook groups I follow. If you are in the public healthcare system with Medicare you will get two regular ultrasound referrals from your healthcare provider.

The first one is the Nuchal Translucency scan at around week 12 – 14. This scan can help to assess if your baby is at risk of Down Syndrome, heart problems as well as other chromosomal abnormalities.

The second on you want to schedule in is at week 18-20. It will be the most exciting scan as you can see the baby pretty well and if you like to know…the sonographer might reveal the gender to you.

Cost of ultrasounds

I had a dating scan at 7 weeks that my GP referred and I found a 100% bulk billing imaginary and received the first picture of my baby (which looked like a little gummibear at that time).

My 13 weeks I had in the RHW hospital that was referred by the midwife. It cost me $70 dollars but Medicare reimbursed $54. I would also like to add that the hospital has got amazing screens to watch the process but they do not hand you out a picture of your baby. You can purchase a DVD with all images for about $30.

The 20 weeks Morphology scan I took again at the Imagery in Maroubra and the reason for this was that the hospital had no availability. They suggested to call Spectrum Imagery but they are a private clinic and you have to pay out of your own pocket without Medicare rebates, it is ca $275 dollars. I did not think this was necessary as I was very pleased with the Maroubra clinic and its staff that even handed me a picture of my baby.

Blood tests – Pathology

You will get referrals for blood tests either by your midwife or you GP. I found out that contacting a few pathologies can save you lots of money too. Although some offer you are a rebate from Medicare you might still end up paying a lot out of your own pocket. I called a few in my area before having my blood taken and it was always on 100% bulk bill meaning, no out of pocket upfront. The pathology billed medicare directly. Win!


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Antenatal Classes

Your hospital will offer you antenatal classes you can attend in preparation of labour and having the baby. Depending on the hospital you are admitted to their course plans, time and costs will vary. In the RHW some classes are free of charge for outpatients but some cost quite a lot of money.

A friend of mine gave birth in Prince Alfred and her classes were free of charge if you attended during the day (a fee applied for evening classes).

It´s up to you if you find an antenatal course necessary. My partner and I attended a four hour Birth Intensive class and I thought it covered everything we needed to know. More knowledge I could gain through hand-outs and talking to other mums to be as well as reading in my apps and books.

Having the baby in your home country?

I hope this little overview was of help and clarified some questions you might have had. For me, I do not think it is necessary to travel back to Germany to be cared of and deliver a baby. Once you understand the differences in the system it is straight forward and Australia will take care of you and your baby. Women referred to it as “peace of mind” but I advise you to always ask a lot, call the pathologies and Ultrasound facilities and ask for their pricing and go somewhere else if this is not in your budget. Ask if they 100% bulk bill. I was referred to facilities but went to different once because of this and it saved me lots of money but I received the same professional care.

If you have questions feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly on mail@tpauls.com. I´d be happy to help.

Disclaimer: I wrote from my own experience.  Medical prices/ labs are subject to change and are just figures that I had received at the time I enquired in the Sydney Metropolitan area. I also included a couple of links that are Affiliate links where I will receive a small commission but for you, the price does not change. 

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