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Are you having your baby in a Victorian Public Hospital?

By Vicki Nott.

Best Melbourne Obstetrician Dr Vicki Nott

If you’re in Melbourne there are many reasons why choosing your local public hospital is the best option or may suit you better than a priviate hospital.

I work in private practice, in a private hospital and I recently learned a number of situations which occur in public hospitals, which you may not know how best to overcome.

It’s important to me that all women, whatever choice they make receive the highest levels or pregnancy care.

A good GP will know most of this, so find yourself a GP that you are very comfortable with, ask them if they have many maternity patients who they see, or is there someone else in the clinic who has a special interest in maternity patients. If you can, avoid seeing a different doctor at each visit and make specific appointments with your GP to provide you continuity of care.

Things to do:
1. You have to get your GP to book you into your local hospital. You may not be able to go to the hospital of your choice, you will be zoned (like schools) unless there is a particular medical reason.

2. Your first visit to the maternity hospital may be as late as 15-20 weeks. If you want the blood tests for chromosomal problems you should have these earlier than 15 weeks. Ask your GP to arrange for you to have these tests. Many public hospitals only offer the most inferior blood test to be done after 15 weeks.

3. You will not get a specialised 12-13 week scan, you will need to ask your GP to arrange this for you.

4. You will not get offered other specialised genetic testing prior to 16 weeks, if you would like to have this done, you will need to ask your GP to arrange it.

5. A first visit at 15+ weeks is too late to have testing for risk of preeclampsia (serious high blood pressure in pregnancy) and too late to start the treatment if you are at risk.

6. A first visit at 15+ weeks is late to start special monitoring and treatment if you are at risk of a weak cervix. If you think you may be, ask your GP to get you an urgent referral.

7. If you have an IVF pregnancy or are age 40+ you are HIGHER RISK than normal, particularly if you go overdue. You need to advocate for yourself and get a late pregnancy growth scan. Ask about the hospital policy for induction for high risk at 39weeks and make sure you have time to discuss this with the medical team so that you are comfortable with the policy.

Your GP will be a very important part of your pregnancy care. There are many options available to you, however you will need to request to have each of them if they are before 15 weeks gestation, or you want them before your first visit to the local maternity hospital.

Some hospitals also have a range of different programs, including GP Shared Care, Midwifery Shared Care or Birthing Units. Read up on what your local hospital offers so that you can request as early as possible, what might suit you best.

Questions you might like to ask about include:

  • How many days post birth care will I stay in hospital?
  • What is the policy on VBAC
  • What is the policy on Induction?
  • At what gestation will I have my first scan?
  • At what gestation are genetic testing options offered?
  • What are my pain management options?

If you have questions about your pregnancy and would like to speak with an obstetrician, call the rooms on (03) 9415 6077 for an appointment.