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Mum with newborn and midwife

Pregnancy and babies

Maternity care in New Zealand is funded by the government for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents and those who meet Ministry of Health eligibility criteria.

Choosing a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)

As soon as your pregnancy is confirmed it is recommended that you find and choose a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) to co-ordinate your maternity care and provide support throughout your pregnancy.  If possible you should do this by 9 weeks gestation.

An LMC can be a Midwife, General Practitioner (GP) who provides maternity care or a Specialist Obstetrician.

Your LMC will organise your first visit (before 12 weeks) to review your general wellbeing, provide advice and explain options for antenatal screening and tests.

Visit the Find Your Midwife website for a list of midwives that work in the Southern district.

Find your midwife logo

Deciding where to give birth

In New Zealand women have choices about their pregnancy, which includes choosing a lead maternity carer (LMC) and for low risk women, the place of birth. Your LMC will discuss birthing options with you early on in your pregnancy. For women with low-risk pregnancies, the best choice is often a primary birthing unit. Primary birthing is when women, with low-risk pregnancies, choose to have a natural birth without intervention, with a LMC present. You will work with your LMC on how you want your birth and labour to occur. LMCs support you from when you first see them, to around when baby is six weeks of age. 

During birthing, should you need to transfer to a secondary/tertiary maternity facility, your LMC is trained to make decisions and deal with the necessary processes to make this happen.

Not all women are able to have their babies in a primary birthing unit. To ensure the best outcome for you and your baby, you may need to give birth in a maternity facility where  obstetric care is available. Your LMC or obstetrician will discuss this with you.

There are six primary birthing units in the Southern district where women can give birth and have post-natal stays once baby is born:

Primary and secondary maternity services are available in Dunedin and Southland Hospital.  Tertiary maternity services are only available in Dunedin hospital.

Home birthing is also an option for some women.  Discuss this with your LMC.  There is a wealth of information available on home birthing – see Home Birth Aotearoa

Maternal and child hubs

In some communities, maternal and child hubs are available to provide ante and post-natal support for new and expectant mothers and their babies.

Each location differs based on what is the appropriate fit for the local community and what other services are available nearby, but all hubs offer space and equipment for planned assessments and other aspects of antenatal and postnatal care. 

In Southland, maternal and child hubs are located in Tuatapere, Te Anau and Lumsden, and in Ranfurly and Wanaka in Otago. 

Maternal and child hubs, birthing units, and hospital-based services, are all part of our primary maternity system of care, ensuring the most appropriate and best possible care is available throughout the district.

Hubs are not intended as places of planned birth, but are equipped to be used in urgent circumstances and LMC midwives have access to these facilities 24/7. 

Now you've had your baby, what's next?

The first six weeks

Congratulations, your parenting journey is beginning!  It is very important that you and your baby continue to receive the health care you need, to get off to the best start in life.

Before leaving the birthing unit you will be asked to confirm two things that your midwife LMC will have discussed with you in the third trimester:

- the GP baby will be enrolled with;

- which WellChild Tamariki or provider you want baby to be enrolled with;

You stay under the care of your LMC midwife for the first 6 weeks after birth.

Find out about getting your baby's vision and hearing checked.

If your baby has a hearing loss, finding it early will help their language, learning and social development. The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme aims to identify newborn babies with hearing loss early so they can access appropriate assistance as soon as possible. Screening is usually done before you and your baby go home from the hospital.  Find more information at Newborn Hearing Screening on the Ministry of Health website 

Registering your baby’s birth is important and required by law. It is easy to complete online – just follow the prompts and it is free unless you want to order a birth certificate.

For advice and assistance on any financial help that you may be entitled to go to Smart Start and Best Start

Find useful information about coping with a crying baby visit the - Ministry of Health website