Having a baby in Canberra’s public system

Maternity Logo Colour

Helping women find
the best maternity care

Canberra Maternity Options is a new way for women from the ACT to learn about and access Canberra’s public maternity system.

Under the streamlined system there will be a single access point: women will call 5124 9977 to arrange to meet with a midwife close to their home at around 10-12 weeks gestation. The midwife will talk to the woman about the public pregnancy and birthing options available, complete a health and wellbeing assessment and discuss the best maternity care options for the woman.

Women will no longer book directly with a hospital or model of care: following the health and wellbeing assessment the midwife will advise them on options and help them find the best care for them.

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Why is the system changing?

We have heard from new parents that it’s not always clear what to do when they first find out they’re having a baby. Canberra Maternity Options will ensure pregnant women receive the right care at the right place, at the right time.

The change has been shaped by consultations with mums, mums-to-be, health practitioners, hospital maternity staff and GPs.

The role of the GP won’t change

GPs remain a vital part of the new system and will continue to do initial investigations and support of early pregnancy care. GPs provide health care advice that helps their patients navigate the health system and supports the long term needs of their growing family.

Your comprehensive referral for care will help inform the health and wellbeing assessment and model of care discussion with the midwife. Referrals can be faxed to 02 5124 1082 or submitted via Smartforms. Your referral will be centrally managed by the Canberra Maternity Options Team.

Following the appointment with a midwife, the woman will commence their model of care at either Centenary Hospital for Women and Children or Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce. Women will be contacted by the relevant hospital to arrange their first appointment.

You will still be able to refer patients with complex health needs to the Fetal Medicine Unit at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children by faxing your referral to 5124 3154. Management of early pregnancy complications remain unchanged.

GP Shared Care will be promoted as a model of care that women can choose and we will notify you about what model of care your patient will commence.

The woman will also be contacted by their model of care to arrange their first appointment.


Patient resources

To help inform your patients of the change, we have created handouts you can print and give to your patients:

Your patients can find out more about their options online at health.act.gov.au/maternity

Maternity postcard Maternity brochure Maternity poster

Frequently asked questions

What’s the role of GP?

GPs will continue to play a vital role in maternity care for women. Women will still see their GP for initial investigations and support of early pregnancy care.

GPs will continue to provide health care advice that helps their patients navigate the health system. Your comprehensive referral for care will help inform the health and wellbeing assessment and model of care discussion with the midwife.

GPs will be promoted as an important provider of ongoing wellbeing support, advice and health care for families. Many GPs offer GP Shared Care and this will be promoted during the first meeting with a midwife and Early Pregnancy Information Sessions as one of the models of care that women can choose.

The change to how women from the ACT access the maternity system will make it easier for GPs to refer women to public maternity care. GPs will be notified about the model of care their patients will commence.

What happens at the appointment with the midwife?

During the first appointment, the midwife will ask a number of questions, including:

  • their health and medical history
  • their personal preferences of how they would like to be cared for during their pregnancy and birth

The midwife will complete a health and wellbeing assessment with the woman and will then identify suitable pregnancy and birthing options that are available for them to choose from.

Do women have to book and meet with a midwife if they already know what model of care they want or they have already had a child?

Yes, women from the ACT who want to access Canberra’s public maternity system will need to call 5124 9977 and meet with a midwife to commence their antenatal care.

What if I want to directly refer a woman to a model of care?

If a GP identifies health issues that indicate the woman will require care from the Fetal Medicine Unit, the GP can directly refer them to the Fetal Medicine Unit at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children by faxing 5124 3154. If risk factors are identified during the appointment with the midwife, they will be referred to a medical specialist as per current practice.

Referrals for all other models of care should be directed to Canberra Maternity Options at 02 5124 1082 or submitted via Smartforms.

What if my patient wants to use a private maternity service?

This referral pathway remains unchanged. If the woman chooses to see a private obstetrician for their pregnancy care, they will need to see you to obtain a referral to see an obstetrician of their choice.

Private midwifery services are also available across the territory. For more information visit Having a baby in Canberra.

What happens if my patient lives in NSW and wants to use Canberra’s public maternity system?

NSW women from Queanbeyan, Yass or Goulburn and surrounding areas will still be able to be referred for ongoing maternity care in ACT. They will initially be directed to their local maternity services or GP to start their maternity care and for a referral to Canberra Maternity Options. Referrals for NSW women can be faxed to 02 5124 1082 or submitted via Smartforms.

The Fetal Medicine Unit at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children will continue to receive direct referrals for women experiencing a high risk pregnancy from their GP or health service. You can fax the referral to 5124 3154. This care pathway remains unchanged.

Will Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have an option to choose Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services?

We support birthing on country or within community.

Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander woman, or woman pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, can choose to receive their care through Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services or Canberra’s public or private maternity system.

If the woman decides to use Canberra’s public maternity system, they will need to call 5124 9977.

Page last updated on: 1 Oct 2019