Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. What are the advantages to having an independent midwife?

Independent midwifery practice is the oldest form of continuity of midwifery care. Recent research has demonstrated that this form of care - where a woman is cared for by the same midwife throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period - is beneficial for women and families. It results in increased satisfaction with the birthing experience and enhanced safety. When multiple care providers are involved in a woman's care, the chance of errors is high because care is provided in pieces. When a woman is cared for by one midwife, she has one point of reference, no conflicting advice, she can develop trust and a sense of security and the birth will generally proceed naturally.

Who is the best obstetrician in Sydney?

Good question! It depends how you define "best". For many women, bedside manner is the only determinant of "best", while safety records and intervention rates are rarely checked by women. It's ok to ask questions of your obstetrician and to come to your own conclusions about who is the "best" obstetrician.

What are my options for birth after July 2010?

After July, they will be the same as they are currently, and homebirth will remain legal. The difference will be after November, when, for the first time, women will be able to book under the care of a private midwife and birth in hospital - hopefully public and private. Many women would like to birth in a private hospital but they want to be cared for by a midwife. Currently, there is no way to facilitate this: all women who birth in a private hospital must have an obstetrician. This may change in November. As well as this, women will be able to claim Medicare benefits for midwifery care and midwives will be able to prescribe medications and order tests and ultrasounds.

Birth centre exclusion criteria

Check with your birth centre. General exclusion criteria include twins, breech babies, high blood pressure, a need for induction or a request for an epidural.

What is the cost of a midwife birth?

All midwives charge different amounts, but in Australia you can expect to pay between $3000 and $6000.

Do midwives give epidurals?

No, midwives are not qualified or trained to administer epidurals. However the midwife can - on a woman's request - call for an anaesthetist to administer an epidural.

What are the positives of hospital birth?

If you have any complications in your pregnancy, hospital might be a safer environment to birth your baby in. Some women feel reassured by the machines and technology that is commonplace in hospital. I encourage homebirth for all healthy women whose pregnancies are low-risk because home is the safest place to birth a baby. We don't go to hospital for other bodily functions - unless something is wrong. Why is birth any different?

How can a midwife own a private practice?

Midwives are autonomous health professionals, just as dentists, psychologists and dieticians are. Midwives can provide care in any setting - including the home - and if obstetric care is needed, the midwife can access this for the woman readily at the hospital.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448