The majority of women in Australia have their babies via the public system. However, around a third appoint a private obstetrician. Here’s everything you need to know about finding one, what they do, how much they cost and why they can be a good idea.
An obstetrician is a private doctor who specialises in pregnancy, childbirth and all things gynaecological. Also known as an OB/GYN, during your pregnancy and beyond, they will:
- Monitor the health of you and your baby with regular ultrasounds, measurements and tests.
- Check for a range of conditions that could cause issues for you or your baby such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and genetic disorders; and help treat them if required.
- Give you advice about staying healthy, diet, exercise and medications.
- Help you with pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, heartburn and back pain.
- Discuss your birth plan, explain what will happen and answer any questions you have.
- Work with hospital staff to deliver your baby.
- Monitor your health following the birth to assist with your recovery.
So how much does an obstetrician cost? Well, they’re pretty expensive because they are specialists after all. Fees can range anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000 depending on their location and experience – for example, obstetricians in Sydney and Melbourne tend to charge a bit more, as do older obstetricians. And unfortunately, you only get a few hundred dollars back from Medicare so almost all of the fees are an out-of-pocket expense you have to pay yourself. Private health cover will only pay for your private hospital fees too, not an obstetrician. So when you add it all up, and potentially other services you might be out of pocket for too such as anaesthetist fees and antenatal tests, using an obstetrician can be a large additional expense.
Read more about pregnancy care:
- What can probiotics do for you during pregnancy?
- Baby on board: 6 tips to help support you through pregnancy
- Snooze on, pregnant mama! Science proves regular naps help your unborn baby
Why you might get one
Having a private obstetrician is not essential for your pregnancy or the birth of your baby. Most women don’t have them and have pregnancy check-ups with public hospital midwives instead – for free. They also go on to deliver healthy babies with the hospital doctors, midwives or doulas, with a hospital obstetrician only brought in if there are complications during the birth and intervention is required.
However, there are a lot of reasons why some women choose to have their own obstetrician. These include:
- You have a high-risk pregnancy or there are health concerns for you or the baby.
- You want more specialist care and check-ups throughout your pregnancy than the public system provides.
- You want the same doctor to care for you during your pregnancy, the birth and during recovery.
- You want the same doctor to deliver all your babies.
- You want to make sure that the doctor delivering your baby is highly experienced.
- You are already seeing an obstetrician due to gynaecology issues.
- You’re going to give birth in a private hospital.
- You’re an older mother.
- You had previous difficult births.
6 tips for selecting an obstetrician
If you have decided that you do want to have a private obstetrician, then here are some considerations and tips before you appoint one:
- Choose a hospital – Obstetricians deliver at specific hospitals only so decide where you want to give birth first and that will help determine which obstetricians are available to you.
- Public or private stay – Some obstetricians deliver at both public and private hospitals, so if you don’t have private health cover (or have had it less than a year before giving birth) and don’t want to also be hit with hefty private hospital fees, then select an obstetrician who can deliver in the public system.
- Check your finances – As mentioned, it’s a large expense so don’t go down this path unless you can afford it as getting into debt right before you have a baby will be very stressful. Either save up or put aside the funds early.
- Get referrals – They are specialists so you will need a medical referral from your GP before booking your first appointment. However, it’s a good idea to ask friends or family members if they can recommend someone. Failing that, Facebook community groups in your local area can help with recommendations.
- Ask about fees upfront – Ring around and get different quotes if you need to because fees can vary, a lot. You want to know from the beginning how much you’ll be expected to pay.
- Check other details – Ask about services and when they might be going on holiday because you don’t want to pay a lot of money specifically to have a doctor deliver your baby only to find they’re away when you go into labour. Find out who their replacement is if they are sick or unavailable, and their stance on different types of births (particularly if you’re wanting something a bit different such as a water birth).
Did you use a private obstetrician for your pregnancy and birth, and if so did you find it a worthy investment? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page.