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Expat Exchange - Having a Baby in Australia
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Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia


Having a Baby in Australia

By Betsy Burlingame

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: Discover the ins and outs of having a baby in Australia through this detailed article. It delves into crucial topics such as the differences between public and private healthcare, approaches to pain management, and the process of finding a suitable doctor. Plus, enjoy personal stories from expats who have embraced parenthood in Australia.

For expats and digital nomads living in Australia, having a baby can be a unique experience that combines high-quality healthcare with a touch of adventure. Australia boasts a robust healthcare system, and expats can expect to receive excellent prenatal and postnatal care. However, navigating a new country's medical system can be daunting, especially when it comes to something as significant as childbirth. Understanding the local healthcare system, choosing the right doctor, deciding between public and private hospitals, and knowing what to expect in terms of prenatal care and delivery options are all crucial steps for expats preparing to welcome a new addition to their family in Australia.

Choosing a Doctor

When it comes to finding a doctor or midwife to manage your pregnancy in Australia, expats have a wealth of options. Most healthcare professionals in Australia speak English, so language barriers are typically not an issue. Expats can choose between an obstetrician, a general practitioner with obstetric qualifications, or a midwife for their prenatal care. It's important to start looking for a healthcare provider as soon as possible, as the best practitioners can be in high demand. Recommendations from other expats, online forums, and local Australian friends can be invaluable in finding the right care provider. Additionally, many private health insurance plans allow you to choose your own doctor, which can be a significant advantage.

What to Expect for Prenatal Care

Prenatal care in Australia is comprehensive and accessible. Expectant mothers typically have regular appointments with their chosen healthcare provider, where they will receive routine ultrasounds, blood tests, and check-ups to monitor the health of both mother and baby. Australia follows a schedule of prenatal visits that is similar to what is found in many Western countries, with visits becoming more frequent as the pregnancy progresses. Additionally, there are numerous classes and resources available for expectant parents to prepare for childbirth and parenting.

Do Expats Typically Have Private Health Insurance when Having a Baby in Australia?

While Australia's public healthcare system, Medicare, provides coverage for many healthcare services, expats who are not eligible for Medicare will typically need private health insurance to cover the costs of having a baby. Even for those who are eligible, private health insurance can offer additional benefits, such as the ability to choose your own doctor and hospital, shorter waiting times, and access to private hospital rooms. It's important for expats to review their insurance options and ensure they have adequate coverage well before the baby is due.

Giving Birth at Public vs. Private Hospitals

The experience of giving birth in a public hospital versus a private hospital in Australia can differ significantly. Public hospitals offer high-quality care and are generally well-equipped, but they may have more restrictive policies on things like the number of visitors and the length of stay. Private hospitals, on the other hand, often provide more personalized care, more comfortable accommodations, and greater flexibility in birth plans. However, the cost of giving birth in a private hospital can be substantially higher, especially for those without private health insurance.

C-Sections in Australia

Caesarean sections are relatively common in Australia, with rates similar to those in other developed countries. The decision to have a C-section is typically based on medical necessity, but elective C-sections are also an option for expectant mothers. The healthcare provider will discuss the best delivery method for the mother and baby's health, and the final decision should be made after considering all the risks and benefits.

Pain Management During Delivery

In Australia, a range of pain management options is available to women during labor and delivery. These include natural methods, such as breathing techniques and water immersion, as well as medical interventions like epidurals and nitrous oxide gas. The availability of these options can vary depending on the hospital and whether the birth is taking place in a public or private facility. Women are encouraged to discuss pain management preferences with their healthcare provider during their prenatal visits.

Hospitals with Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Major cities in Australia, such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, have hospitals equipped with Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) for babies who need specialized care after birth. These facilities are staffed by highly trained professionals and are equipped with the latest technology to care for premature or ill newborns. For expats living in more remote areas, it's important to be aware of the nearest hospital with a NICU in case of any complications during or after delivery.

Expats Talk about Having a Baby in Australia

"My experience was fantastic. I was 5 months pregnant when i arrived in Australia. I was referred by a local GP for the 20 week scan which was amazing and around $100 or so after the medicare rebate. This was entitled to us under the reciprocal agreement with britain (and other countries), as we are british citizens. We were able to take away a recording of the scan on DVD and photos. Had the baby at RWH(Royal Womens Hospital) in melbourne - a non-private hospital, which had been renovated and in a new building from 3 months before. So all equipment, beds etc were new. This was all under medicare so i did not have to pay a cent - only had to pay for medication I took away with me after the birth. Went in via ambulance (we had Ambulance membership and would advise everyone to get this whether or not they are pregnant!) Delivery room was HUGE with sofa, sink, computer and desk, attached ensuite bath, shower, toilet etc. Much better than you could ever imagine in NHS system (for those of you who are Brits reading this!). was given the gas, thats all I had. Was able to use the bath and shower as much as I wanted for pain relief which was great. Even used the gas while in the bath! After the birth, given a private room with a double bed, sink basin, nappy changing area, wardrobe, side tables and a semi-ensuite bathroom (shared in between my room and the next). Staff were all excellent, went in monday morning, came out Wednesday evening as I had a vaginal birth -(else you stay longer)," commented an expat living in Melbourne.

"Have the baby in the RWH in Melbourne! The breatfeeding advise and help is also fantastic. They even have a clinic for you to come in afterwards if you think you need more help with it! I also want to mention that unlike the lady who posted having a baby in Sydney and was refused her visa on the grounds of her pregnancy and not able to have a chest x-ray, I was also not able to have the x-ray in the UK being 3 months pregnant when we applied for the visa (March 08). However, this was never mentioned as a problem and I received my temporary visa with no issues at all. I simply had the chest x-ray 2 months AFTER the baby was born in Australia. Plus - being a British citizen, I am entitled to have all the cost paid for me by the Australian medicare system yet that didn't deter them from giving me the visa. By the way - if you are a 'temporary resident' and have a baby the baby will not be an Australian citizen so not entitled to Australian passport. They will be issued a temporary visa. The baby can get it if you stay here until he/she is 10 years old though," said one expat living in Melbourne.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global
SJB Global

Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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