All midwives in Australia are qualified through either a three-year Bachelors of Midwifery or a three-year Bachelors of Nursing plus a diploma or masters in midwifery. They can work in several different settings, such as a public or private hospital, or in your home.

Private practice

Choosing a midwife who practises privately essentially means they work for you. They won't have any restrictions placed on their availability due to ties with hospitals.

This option is compatible with home births. A privately practising midwife can potentially visit your home more often, and their capacity to be on call around your due-date period could be more flexible than hospital-based midwives.

Privately practising midwives often continue to visit you and your newborn for up to six weeks post-birth. These visits can be beneficial for time-poor parents who prefer to have help come to them, rather than make doctor appointments. Some privately practising midwives can organise 'visiting rights' with a hospital so they can be present at your birth in a hospital setting.

Check your state's policies regarding Medicare rebates, which are applicable for some privately practising midwives.

Public hospital

If you opt to work with a midwife in a public hospital, they may be the person to take you through labour. If needed, a midwife can call for a doctor at any point throughout labour. Your midwife and doctor may work as a team during your labour, particularly if your pregnancy is considered high-risk.

Private hospital

You're likely to consult with the same midwife during pregnancy, but it can't be guaranteed that this person will be there for your labour. Obstetricians and midwives might work as a team for private hospital births.

Birth-centres

You may deal with a small roster of midwives here. This can be great for a range of opinions and personalities throughout your care. If you prefer the idea of getting to know and trust one midwife, you may be better off with an alternative birth-place option.

Decisions, decisions

Consider the type of relationship you wish to have with your birth team. Each setting offers a variety of professionals. Take some time to think about whether you'd prefer to meet more or fewer people throughout your pregnancy.

You may want a midwife to work alone, or as a team with a doctor/OBGYN. Listen to your pregnancy professional’s advice as to where the safest place for your birth is, and weigh this up with the setting you feel most comfortable in. Ultimately, try to choose the birth-setting and birth team that feels right for you.