Birthing options

We look at some different birthing options to help you think about which one might be right for you.

Having a baby can be an exciting time, but deciding what type of birth is right for you can be complicated and overwhelming, especially with all the other decisions you might need to make.

There are many different types of birthing options, so it’s important to be able to make an informed decision about which one is right for you and your baby.

Having a baby in a private hospital 

One benefit of having a baby in a private hospital is that you can choose an obstetrician to oversee your entire pregnancy (which can be especially important to women with complicated pregnancies) – as opposed to a public hospital where you will usually have an obstetrician assigned to you. 

Bupa member and employee, Suzy West, chose to give birth to both her children in a private hospital because she felt it gave her more control.

“It wasn’t even a decision for me. I’ve always had private health cover so I could go to private hospitals. I wanted my choice of doctor and my own room and bathroom if possible.” says Suzy.

Don’t forget that if you are considering giving birth as a private patient, you need to hold your private health cover (that includes pregnancy cover) for 12 months prior to giving birth. It’s always a good idea to contact Bupa if you need more information.

For more information about how much it may cost to have your baby in the private system, check out Bupa Beginnings – a free and interactive guide to planning, pregnancy and early parenthood.

Having a baby in a public hospital

If you decide to give birth in a public hospital, there are two different options open to you:

1. Care as a private patient

You may choose to receive private care in a public hospital to have more personalised service. This includes choosing your own doctor and which hospital you would like to go to. You’re also more likely to have a room to yourself, subject to availability. 

It’s important to ask your doctor for an “informed financial consent” before you go into hospital and speak to Bupa so you can fully understand your situation.  

After two public hospital births, Bupa member Rebel Wylie decided to go with private care in a public hospital for her third child.

“I had a private room, lots of attention and I had an extended stay to get a milk production issue I had under control. It was great to be in my own room, bathroom etc. I felt much more comfortable,” she says.

Don’t forget that if you are considering giving birth as a private patient in a public hospital, you need to hold your private health cover (that includes at least restricted cover for pregnancy) for 12 months prior to giving birth. It’s always a good idea to contact Bupa if you need more information.

2. Care as a public patient

If you choose to be a public patient in a public hospital, your GP will usually refer you to your nearest public hospital. Depending on where you live, you may have some public hospitals to choose from. You will then need to book in with the hospital’s antenatal clinic where you will be cared for by doctors and midwives. 

If yours is a low-risk pregnancy, your antenatal care will most likely happen in the hospital’s midwives’ clinic. Midwives are qualified health professionals who provide care and support from pregnancy through to postnatal care and beyond. They can help you choose what method of birth is right for you, and refer you to a doctor if any complications arise. 

“Building a relationship with a family over the gestation period really allows for you to understand their wants and needs, the respect and trust that grows results in an amazing rapport in the labour room. Words can be left unsaid because a look or a touch is enough to help them. It [helps] reduce their fear massively,” says midwife, Anita Lane.
Picture of a baby who has just been born

Having a baby in a birthing centre

A birthing centre is a facility that is part of a hospital and usually separate from the labour ward. You will need to be admitted to the hospital associated with the birthing centre you have chosen to enable you to receive care there, as well as having the appropriate hospital insurance cover if it is a private facility. 

The care in a birthing centre is midwife-led and is set up to be less clinical than a hospital labour ward and feel more like a home. Usually, there is a double bed, a private bathroom, and space to move around freely while you’re in labour. Some birthing centres may even offer water births. 

It’s important to know that a birthing centre offers minimal medical intervention, and only women expected to have low-risk births are encouraged to use the birthing centres. So, if you know you definitely will want or need major pain relief like an epidural,  a birthing centre may not be the best option for you. 

If you experience any complications during the labour, a midwife will likely arrange for you to be transferred to the hospital. 

Birthing centres are an option for women with uncomplicated pregnancies in the public or private systems. However, this birth option is not suitable for women with a higher risk of complications. This includes women with heart or kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and those who have had complications in previous labours. 

Having a home birth

For healthy women whose pregnancy is progressing normally, giving birth in the comfort of their own home may be an option they’d like to consider. Some public hospitals provide home birth services, or you can choose to hire a registered midwife to attend the home birth. It’s important to note that Bupa health insurance does not cover home births.

There are risks associated with home births. You do not have immediate access to the specialised care of a hospital, so you need to talk to your doctor or midwife about what would happen if something goes wrong and you need to be transferred to a hospital, and how long this would take. If you give birth at home, you will also not be able to have an epidural to help block labour pains. 

Home births are not necessarily an option for everyone, and doctors and midwives will recommend that some women give birth in a hospital. For example, if you are having more than one baby (e.g. twins), if your baby is in the breech position, or if you’ve had a caesarean delivery in the past. 

It’s important to note that Bupa health insurance does not cover home births, so it’s worth considering if this is the right option for you.

A button which you can click on to take you to a hub filled with information on the first thousand days.

Back to top