If you’re pregnant, you will need to choose a lead maternity carer to co-ordinate your pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.
What is a lead maternity carer?
A lead maternity carer (LMC) can be a community or hospital-based midwife, a general practitioner (GP or family doctor), a private obstetrician or a hospital maternity service. It is the LMC’s role to manage your care throughout your pregnancy and immediately after you’ve given birth.
Names of potential LMCs can be found on various website, "Find Your Midwife" which has been developed in association with the New Zealand College of Midwives (NZCOM) and the Healthpoint website.
It’s a good idea to discuss your ideas, birth plan and where you want to have your baby with the LMCs you’re considering. This way you’ll be able to choose the LMC that best meets your needs. You can change your LMC at any stage for any reason. If there are concerns about the wellbeing of you or your baby, your LMC may refer you to a more specialised practitioner. The reasons for this will be discussed with you.
Home or hospital?
In Auckland you can have a home birth or a hospital birth. If you want a home birth you will need to find a midwife who attends births in the home.
The National Women’s Health maternity unit is located within Auckland City Hospital. There are also comprehensive maternity units at Middlemore and North Shore hospitals. These three hospital facilities can provide every level of birth care from low to high risk.
Smaller maternity units are located at Birthcare, Botany Downs, Waitakere, Helensville, Papakura and Pukekohe hospitals. These maternity units are suitable for women who are likely to have no complications.
If you choose a hospital birth, you can receive your maternity care from:
- an independent community-based midwife
- a general practitioner, assisted by hospital midwives who attend the labour and birth and providing postnatal care
- a hospital maternity team of midwives and doctors
- a private obstetrician, with hospital midwives or an independent midwife to assist with labour and birth and provide postnatal care.
The role of the LMC
It is important for your health and the health of your baby that you find and see your LMC as soon as you know you are pregnant
- Your LMC may provide all your care or share the care with one or more other practitioners
- Your LMC will provide information to help you with nutrition and exercise, recognising the risks of smoking and alcohol, labour and the birth process, pain relief, breastfeeding, baby care, infant immunisation, community services, contraception and many other relevant topics
- It is important that you have a 24 hour contact number for your LMC and that back-up arrangements have been discussed with you in case your LMC is unavailable at any stage.
Choosing an LMC
When you’re choosing between individual practitioners, there are some questions you may wish to ask:
- What qualifications do you have and how do you stay up-to-date with new information?
- Do you provide all of the care or do you work with another practitioner who will provide some of the care?
- Which hospital do you work at?
- Do you do home births?
- Where is your clinic and how often will I have check-up appointments?
- Who will provide post-natal care?
- What back-up arrangements do you have if you’re not available?
- What is your intervention rate? (This question is relevant if you are planning a natural childbirth)
Costs for maternity care
Most maternity care is free for New Zealand citizens and women with permanent residency. You may be charged for antenatal/childbirth education classes and a surcharge for ultrasound scans. You may also have to pay to have an ultrasound scan if there is no medical reason for having it. Private obstetricians and private maternity hospitals will also charge a fee. If you’re not sure whether you qualify for free healthcare, contact the Finance Department on (09) 638 0420 or visit the Ministry of Health website.