New Zealand women and their families/whanau have access to personal, practical and professional care from midwives from early pregnancy right through until four to six weeks after the baby’s birth. This care is free and is available to all women throughout New Zealand who meet the Ministry of Health eligibility criteria. To find out if you meet these criteria, click here.
Pregnant women choose a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) who coordinates their maternity care. The vast majority of women and their families choose a midwife as their LMC. These LMC midwives work with their midwife partners in small group practices, the midwives who are employed to work in maternity units, and medical and obstetric colleagues if women require additional care.
Once booked or registered with an LMC midwife, she (and her back up) will be responsible for providing and co-coordinating your care during your pregnancy. She will undertake regular assessments of you and your growing baby’s well being, discuss referral for a range of tests (such as blood tests and ultrasounds), refer you as necessary, and discuss the results with you. She will provide you with information about what to expect during pregnancy, labour and birth and the early weeks after your baby is born. If concerns arise, she will refer you for specialist assessment and discuss options with you.
Your midwife will work with you to make a plan for your labour and birth. New Zealand woman can choose to give birth either at home, in a small maternity unit (primary maternity facility) or a larger maternity hospital. Your midwife can provide labour and birth care in any setting. If you give birth in hospital, your midwife will work alongside the other midwives and hospital staff as necessary to ensure you receive the care you need. The Find Your Midwife website has up to date information regarding maternity facilities available in your region.
The majority of women who have a hospital birth remain in hospital for a few days after the birth, receiving assistance with breastfeeding and caring for their baby.
Your midwife will provide care to you and your baby in your home for up to six weeks after the birth. Your care will be handed to the Well Child service and your GP at this stage.