Making decisions about pregnancy and postnatal care can be a daunting task.

For many couples, achieving a successful pregnancy is a hard-fought battle, and often by the time a positive test result is returned, months of stressful planning and waiting have already been endured.

But before the celebrations are even over, people realise it is time to plan the birth of their newborn and a whole new course of obstacles and decisions suddenly appear before them.

Public patients can choose from various pregnancy and birth-care options, depending on their location, and the birth will usually take place at a public hospital determined by the Department of Health, based on the patient’s home address.

For low-risk public patients, antenatal care is delivered by either a GP or a midwife.

But pregnancy and childbirth can be a very stressful time and some people feel more comfortable seeing an obstetrician of their choice and choosing a private hospital for the birth.

HBF product development manager Leroy Pereira said without private health insurance, the cost of having a baby at a private hospital can be prohibitive for many parents-to-be.

“We are talking costs above the tens of thousands for private care without cover, ” he said.

“But you can see why it is important to people because they can have control over the doctor they see and where they deliver the baby and that can be very helpful.

“Don’t get me wrong, you can have a great experience in the public hospital system but if complications arise, if you are in the private system you can have more peace of mind.”

Mr Pereira said private health insurance covered most of the costs of having a baby in a private hospital.

Medicare rebates are available for a portion of out-of-hospital pre-natal obstetric visits and these are not claimable on private health insurance, but private obstetricians usually only deliver babies in private hospitals.

Mr Pereira said anyone who was planning to start a family should get cover as soon as possible.

“All health insurers’ maternity policies have a 12-month waiting period before benefits are paid for maternity claims, ” he said.

“If you make sure your cover is in order as soon as you start planning, you will avoid missing out on benefits should the baby be born prior to the 12-month waiting period being served.

“For established families, continuing with maternity coverage can bring peace of mind for unplanned children scenarios.”

Mr Pereira said private health cover also provided access to a great range of pre and post-natal support services, provided through private hospitals.

These included parenting classes, post-natal guidance, lactation consultants, baby-bathing lessons and even a candlelit dinner for two in hospital after the baby was delivered.

He said another big benefit of delivering in a private hospital was that there was no rush for discharge.

In many cases, parents could enjoy the birth experience more because typically there was less pressure to discharge with the public system where bed space was at a premium.


© The West Australian

More Lifestyle news at