Maternity care

Your lead maternity carer is a midwife or specialist doctor who provides maternity care for you. You choose who provides your maternity care.

Your lead maternity carer will care for you while you are pregnant, during labour and birth and for 4–6 weeks after your baby is born. All maternity care is free unless you choose a specialist doctor.

Choosing a lead maternity carer

When you find out you are pregnant you should choose a lead maternity carer as early as possible. This is very important for your health and for your baby. Most women choose a midwife but you may wish to choose a specialist doctor (an obstetrician). In some places a general practitioner (a GP) who has been specially trained to care for pregnant women may be available.

Most women in New Zealand can choose maternity services that are free. Find out if you can get free maternity care. Note that if you choose a specialist doctor you will have to pay for your maternity care.

Visit Find Your Midwife or talk to your doctor or nurse about finding a midwife in your area.

Your midwife or specialist doctor will support you from when you first see them until your baby is around 6 weeks old. It’s important that you choose someone you feel comfortable with. See the Choosing a midwife or specialist doctor page for a list of questions that you can ask before you choose.

Remember that you can change the person who is looking after you at any time – although in most cases women find that it’s important to have the same person throughout pregnancy, during labour and birth and after baby is born.

Your maternity care

The midwife or specialist doctor you choose to care for you is your care provider, and responsible for your care throughout your pregnancy, labour and birth. They will also care for you and your baby until your baby is 6 weeks old, and provide you with the information you need to make decisions around your pregnancy and birth.

Your care provider (or their backup) will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for urgent care. If you have an urgent concern, contact your care provider immediately, whatever the time of day. For non-urgent queries, take your questions to your planned visits with your midwife or specialist doctor, or contact them during their normal working hours.

You should expect your midwife or specialist doctor to:

  • develop a plan with you for your care, including your labour and birth
  • talk to you about staying healthy during the pregnancy
  • be with you during your labour and birth (or, in the case of a doctor, arrange for midwifery care during labour)
  • refer you or your baby to specialist support if needed
  • visit you (or arrange for you to be visited) at the hospital and in your home at least seven times after your baby is born
  • refer you to your chosen Well Child Tamariki Ora provider after the birth of your baby
  • help you to enrol your baby at a general practice for doctor and practice nurse services.

Your midwife or specialist doctor will see you throughout your pregnancy. They will feel your tummy to check baby’s growth, position and heartbeat, and take your blood pressure and test your wee/mimi.

They will also offer screening tests and scans to check that both you and your baby are healthy and well. If you decide to have these tests and scans, your midwife or specialist doctor will arrange them for you and explain your results.

Your midwife or specialist doctor will explain how often you will need to be seen during your pregnancy. These visits may be able to take place in your home, at a clinic, on the marae or in a hospital.

Your choices during pregnancy

For some women pregnancy can be a difficult time. You may need someone to talk to or you may want some specific support. Your midwife or your doctor or nurse will be able to talk to you about any issues you face.

Visit Abortion Services in New Zealand, ring 0800 ABORTION (0800 226 784) or talk to your doctor or nurse if you want to know more about termination (abortion).

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