In the UK, private midwives charge between £1,800 and £5,000 for a birth, but their services are in high demand from professional, well-educated women who have become disenchanted with the hospital experience. The number of mothers paying for private midwives to attend home births has tripled in the last eight years.
Demand has become so high in parts of London and the South East that some expectant mothers have been unable to find a private midwife to assist them.
Many of the expectant mothers are older and have been put off by previous experiences in NHS maternity wards.
Women who engage private midwives claim they can form a relationship with one person rather than seeing a succession of strangers.
Midwives understand that women want continuity of care and someone to talk to them and answer their questions. Women don't want routine and unnecessary interventions in their pregnancy and birth, and they want more extensive postnatal care.
The Australian experience is the same as that in the UK. Women seek private midwifery care for home birth or hospital birth so that they can form a relationship with one person who will be with them from their first antenatal appointment, through to birth and 6 weeks after their baby is born.
In Australia, eligible midwives can provide medicare-funded care which makes private midwifery care more affordable to women, thanks to the maternity reforms.