Birthing in the South West

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5 pregnant women in white underwear holding bellies
Choosing who you want on your birthing team and leading your care can be a big and daunting task. It is an important one and shouldn’t be taken lightly, after all these people will be there to witness, help and support you on one of the biggest days of your life. The choice is not simply a public or private hospital as many think. There are many more options to consider but it can be hard to find all of the information if you don't know where to look. After all, you don't know what you don't know. It can all become quite stressful and we all know we don't need the extra stress while pregnant, right? That's where I'm here to help. 
Choosing your type of care provider could be determined by where you live. So I will run through the different types, and then different areas from Bunbury, south to Margaret River. 
General Practitioner shared care is when you will be cared for by your GP up until 36 weeks gestation. You will have all of your antenatal appointments with them, provided you are low-risk and there are no complications. At 20 weeks you will have an initial appointment and at 36 weeks your care will be taken over by your local public hospital. This will depend on your GP and your local public hospital which could be Bunbury Regional, Busselton Health Campus or Margaret River.
An OB (obstetrician), GPOB (General Practitioner Obstetrician or an OBGYN (Obstetrician-Gynecologist) is highly trained in all things pregnancy including any complications, high risks and surgeries. Therefore it is no surprise that obstetrician-led births have higher rates of intervention and caesarean section. 
If you're looking for a holistic female OB in the southwest, Dr Sarah Moore at Broadwater Medical comes highly recommended, however, she does have a long waitlist, so make an appointment early. Dr Ray Mckenna, also at Broadway is also very supportive and Dr Gadd comes highly recommended in Bunbury.
Midwife-led care has many benefits if you are looking for a low-intervention birth. It is proven in the Cochrane review that women who birthed with midwives as their primary carer had fewer epidurals, fewer episiotomies and instrumental births and a higher chance of spontaneous vaginal birth. 
Read more about this here.
The midwifery group practice is funded by the government meaning no out-of-pocket expense for you. They vary slightly from hospital to hospital. It generally means you will have 1 primary midwife out of a small group as your carer and they will do most antenatal visits but you will likely meet some of the other midwives in the group as well. They will support home birth (depending on the hospital you go through), however, if complications arise and you need to deliver in the hospital they will support you there as well. You will need to be referred to the program and be low risk and not attempt a VBAC. Once in the program, even if your pregnancy becomes high risk you will not be kicked out of the program.  Your care will start at 14-16 weeks gestation, and see you through labour and birth and into your postpartum. Your postpartum visits will be held at home for up to 6weeks. 
This service is available for women living within 30 kms of Bunbury hospital and that are less than 32weeks gestation. Margaret River Hospital has recently started an MGP program, meaning you have continuity of care with a midwife who is on call for you birth, however, they do not support home birth. 
A private midwife, much like the MGP will see you through your whole pregnancy, birth and postpartum in the comfort of your own home. They will have a backup midwife just in case they are not able to make it to your birth or it runs for an extended period of time meaning your midwife will need rest to be able to perform her job to the best of her ability. If you are looking for a home birth and do not meet the criteria of the MGP then this is your next best option. As they are private, there is an out-of-pocket expense of approx $4,000-$6,000 some of which is covered by Medicare. 
You will still need to register your details with an OB on the chance that you are transferred to the hospital. Some midwives have rights to attend your birth in certain hospitals if you are wanting the continuity of care from a midwife but feel safest birthing in a hospital, or have to transfer if your pregnancy becomes high risk. 
Luckily for the mamas of the South West, the last year or so has seen some more private midwives emerge. Loralee Worrall and Samatha Mansfeild both of which come highly recommended, have been private midwives in the area for 20+ years. Recently Barbara Murray has started in the Dunsborough area, Elisha Spalding in Bunbury and Kieran Kenny in Harvey. 
midwife weights a new born baby at home
The benefits of having a private midwife are higher satisfaction rates with birthing mother and partner, more support meaning lower postpartum depression rates, continuity of care and the comfort of your own home, as well as the medical benefits listed earlier. 
A doula is a support person you align with who will be there from pregnancy, during labour and postpartum to advocate for you in any setting. They will support you both physically and mentally as well as provide information and resources for you to make informed and educated decisions about your birth. They are not medically trained and as such cannot provide any medical advice or conduct procedures. They are not there to replace a partner, but rather to support the whole family on the journey to welcome the newest member. 
Doulas are there to hold space and listen to your needs, ensuring you feel safe and supported. They are proven to help a mother have a physiological birth with lower intervention rates and improve satisfaction. Meaning you walk away feeling empowered from your positive birth experience setting you up for greater success in your postpartum.
The power of continuous care from a non-medical professional is also documented here in Cochrane
Phillipa Kelly is a highly recommended Doula and Hypnobirthing facilitator servicing Busselton to Margaret River. Tamara Stone doubles as Doula and birth photographer and can also encapsulate your placenta. Tamara is located in Donnybrook and services the Bunbury area as well. Dionne Doig is a birth doula and reiki practitioner in the Busselton area. The lovely Amanda Rose is a birth and postpartum doula in Dunsborough. Meliss Bulman is in Bunbury and Angela Wellman in Margaret River attends free births. And I am a birth and postpartum doula, ceremony facilitator and yoga instructor specialising in pregnancy and mums and bubs classes, servicing from Augusta to Bunbury. 
pregnant lady holds a baby
A free birth is when there are intentionally no medical professionals involved in the birth, an unassisted home-birth. A midwife will not be able to help or assist you “just in case” due to legal obligations. Many free births do have a non-medically trained person in attendance such as family members or a doula. Shortfalls and distrust in the Australian maternity system is the main reason women choose to have a free birth.
women in bath tub in labour at home
Public - Bunbury Regional Hospital 
Bunbury Regional is the biggest hospital in the area with the most facilities including a pediatrics unit hence why it cares for low and high-risk pregnancies. It is also because of this reason that other hospitals transfer high-risk patients here. They have 3 delivery suites, 10 obstetric beds and support obstetric-led care, GP obstetric care, shared GP care and shared midwife care. 
They also feature a MGP (Midwife Group Practice) available to women living 30km from Bunbury Hospital. Whilst MGP offers antenatal visits at home, most appointments are scheduled in the off campus MGP clinic, with postnatal visits done at home.  For a referral to the program, you must be less than 32 weeks pregnant and speak to a midwife at your next antenatal appointment or contact them directly via the details below.Bunbury supports low-risk water births, has 24hr epidural facilities, performs C-sections and supports VBAC and early discharge with midwife-led home visits, depending on your location. 
Phone: 9722 1000
Address: Bussell Highway (cnr Robertson Drive), Bunbury WA 6230
Midwifery Group Practice at Bunbury
Phone: 9722 1348
Private - St John of God
If you've added maternity cover to your insurance then you may be considering a private hospital. SJOG is the only private hospital in the area for this option. 
SJOG Bunbury offers private rooms for all families, larger rooms for families with multiple children, a neonatal unit and special care nursery, parent education classes, lactation consultants and early discharge with at-home midwife checkups. You can book a tour of their maternity ward here.
Phone: 9722 1600
Address: Corner Robertson Drive and Bussell Highway, Bunbury WA 6230
Busselton Health Campus is a relatively new facility, meaning that even though it is public, it feels quite private. They have 2 birthing suites, both with deep tubs for labouring and water birth. 2 out of 6 perinatal rooms have double beds for partners to stay. 
Primary care with a GPOB, shared GP care, MGP and private midwife care are all supported in Busselton Health Campus. They also support VBAC (Vaganal Birth After Casearean) and caesareans however as they are only a small hospital, if your pregnancy becomes high risk with the need for paediatricians you may be transferred to Bunbury. They have an epidural service although you may have to wait for up to an hour for an anaesthetist to arrive. 
Phone: 9754 0333
Address: Mill Road, Busselton WA 6280
woman on bed in hospital giving birth

Margaret River is the smallest of the above hospitals hence why they will only take low-risk pregnancies. They have 1 labour suite and 4 perinatal beds. The one tub for a water birth is rarely used due to the number of trained midwives they have in water births. If your labour becomes high risk you are transferred to Bunbury Hospital, meaning up to an hour and a half in an ambulance or car whilst in labour. They support primary GPOB care, shared OB care and midwifery-led care and have an MGP program. The MGP program will support you birthing in Busselton or the Margaret River hospitals, however, will not support home births. Unfortunately since the start of the MGP program a little over a year ago, the staffing numbers have fallen, meaning it is more difficult to get into.
Phone: 9757 0400
Address: Farrelly Street, Margaret River WA 6285
I hope this has helped with your decision on where to birth and who to birth with. If you have any more questions regarding the topic or anything to add, please don't be shy and do so via my email.
Jenise Russell, yoga instructor, specialising in prenatal yoga and mums and bubs classes, birth and postpartum doula, mother blessing facilitator. For more information please feel free to email me via Follow along on my Instagram, or my website
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