Support for pregnant women and new mothers factsheet

The Australian Government has announced a package of reforms to improve maternity care. These reforms improve choice in and access to maternity services for pregnant women, new mothers and families.

Page last updated: 27 June 2012

PDF printable version of the Support for pregnant women and new mothers factsheet (PDF 423 KB)

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The package:

  • Supports continuity of care – you can be confident that your health care providers, including midwives and obstetricians, will work together to help you receive safe, high quality care throughout pregnancy, birth and after your baby is born.
  • Gives you more choice in the type of care you wish to receive when having a baby.
  • Recognises the role of midwives in the birthing experience.
  • Enables you to claim rebates for specific midwifery services under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
  • Gives you access to subsidised medicines by enabling authorised midwives to prescribe certain medicines that are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
  • Provides Australian Government-supported professional indemnity insurance for midwives so that you and your family are protected.
  • Supports women and families living in rural and remote areas – through training and upskilling more midwives and GPs delivering maternity services.
  • Provides a new, expanded national 24 hour Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline. You, your partner and family can call 1800 882 436 for advice and information about pregnancy, birth and the first 12 months of your baby’s life.

Changes to MBS and PBS

The Government is making changes to the MBS and PBS so that maternity care options are more affordable.
From 1 November 2010, eligible midwives in Australia will be able to access both the MBS and PBS.
For the first time:
    • you can claim rebates for specific services provided by an eligible privately practising midwife – antenatal and postnatal services (up to six weeks following the birth), and during birth in a hospital setting, including a birth centre; and
    • you will be able to access subsidised medicines as authorised midwives will be able to prescribe certain medicines that are listed on the PBS.

Services covered

Under the new arrangements, services covered by Medicare are:
    • antenatal services;
    • delivery in a hospital setting – including a birth centre; and
    • postnatal services.

Accessing the MBS and PBS

To access the MBS, your midwife must be privately practising – i.e. a midwife working in private practice, the same as your GP or obstetrician. To access the PBS, your midwife must be privately practising and meet additional eligibility requirements.

For your protection

So that you can be fully confident in the care you receive, midwives must be appropriately trained, qualified and registered.

Eligible midwives will have a Medicare provider number and/or a PBS prescriber number. This enables you to claim your care under Medicare and receive subsidised medicines, if prescribed to you.

Midwives will have professional indemnity insurance, and the Australian Government is supporting an insurance product as part of this package. This insurance does not cover the planned delivery of babies in the home.

Working with your care team

You can be assured that additional professional assistance is on hand to support your midwife, if required.

In order for you to claim your maternity care under Medicare, midwives must be working in what’s termed a ‘collaborative arrangement’ with a medical practitioner qualified to provide obstetric care – either an obstetrician or a GP obstetrician. This enables you to have access to an obstetrician or a medical practitioner who provides obstetric services, if you need one.

Collaborative arrangements further support you to receive continuity of care that is safe for you and your family.

For more information, visit the Department of Health and Ageing website or call 1800 678 636.

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