Children and Babies - Choosing Public or Private

Congratulations! You've just found out you're pregnant... So now what?!
The good news is that giving birth in Australia is generally safe wherever you choose to have your baby. The first thing you need to determine is whether you’re going to have your baby using private health care or public health care because this is likely to affect the setting you give birth in.

Children and Babies – Choosing Public or Private

That is a question only you can answer. Different people have different priorities and desires for their labour and hospital stay. Here are some basic things for you to consider.

  • Some public hospitals also house private hospital patients. In that case, the public hospital will have different private and public birthing suites. Private rooms tend to be larger, include televisions, showers and spa baths and usually house a couch for partner’s to rest on. Public birthing suites are usually smaller and provide less bells and whistles but still provide the basics such as a shower and small area to move around in.
  • Public patients receive the same doctor on duty as private patients. The difference is that two midwives are normally sufficient for public patients whereas a doctor is usually present at a private birth. Doctors will only attend the birth of a public patient when they are needed, such as in difficult or risky pregnancies. A public patient can therefore receive the same level of care as a private patient but walk away with no bill at the end of it.
  • Public health patients are not excluded from using private birthing suites within a public hospital – they are filled on a “first come first served” or priority basis. However the same cannot be said for maternity wards. Private wards are usually in a different area of the maternity wing of a public hospital and are usually single occupant rooms with nicer furnishings and often room for a small pull out bed in case a partner wishes to stay the night. In the public system single occupant rooms are reserved for patients recovering from surgery or difficult births. Most rooms house two or more patients per room, plus their babies, which can make for a noisy stay and not much rest!
  • Private health patients usually get better menu options. This may sound silly, but if you are the type of person who prefers crème brûlée to red jello then this is something you might want to know now!
  • It is worth pointing out that the hospital stay for new mums in the public system is usually less lengthy than those in the private system, most likely due to some of the points mentioned above.

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