A privately practicing midwife (also termed an endorsed midwife or eligible midwife) is a registered midwife who has an endorsement on their registration. This endorsement allows them to prescribe medicines, order diagnostics (including ultrasounds, blood tests and pregnancy screenings), access the PBS and Medicare, as well as access private insurance.
Private midwifery care can start from the time a woman is aware of the pregnancy and appointments continue throughout the pregnancy, with Medicare rebate available on midwifery fees, and often in the woman’s home. The midwives may order tests and ultrasounds relating to pregnancy, birth and the newborn period and follow up on results, prescribe medications and refer women and babies to obstetricians and paediatricians as needed.
Some midwives only provide antenatal and postnatal care and some will attend births for their private clients, either in a hospital in the same way that women can be admitted under the care of a private obstetrician, or as a home birth. Postpartum appointments will be available for the first six weeks after birth, also as home visits. Each midwife provides slightly different services, so it’s always best to ask your midwife about the services they offer.
All privately practising midwives are required by their regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, to work within specified guidelines and will seek input from a medical practitioner or local health network if complications arise.