Most Maternity Care is Free!
The Ministry of Health provides funding so every pregnant women who is a resident in New Zealand can receive free pregnancy care.
That care is provided by a Lead Maternity Carer or LMC who may be a midwife, a general practitioner, an obstetrician or the District Health Board (DHB).
The choice of services will vary from DHB to DHB but common to all DHBs is the free service provided by community midwives.
In some DHB regions, you may have the option of having a general practitioner as your LMC. The GP will provide the antenatal care and will, generally, be at the birth if the baby. The care provided during labour and postnatally will be provided by a midwife, either community or hospital based. This is also a free service funded by the Ministry of Health but it should be noted very few general practitioners provide this service.
Also, in some DHB regions, you may have the option of having a private obstetrician as your LMC. The obstetrician will provide the antenatal care and will, generally, be at the birth if the baby. The care provided during labour and postnatally will be provided by a midwife, either community or hospital based. This option is only partially funded by the Ministry of health and most obstetricians who provide this service also charge an additional fee.
Qualifying for the Free Service
To receive the free service funded by the Ministry of Health, you must meet the eligibility rules set by the Ministry. Essentially these require that the woman or her partner:
- Are a NZ citizen by birth or naturalization, OR
- Have permanent residence in NZ, OR
- Hold a work permit valid for at least two years.
The complete rules are set out on the Ministry of Health website at:
So What is an LMC?
An LMC or Lead Maternity Carer is a health professional who provides maternity care and has an agreement with the Ministry of Health to provide the service.
Most LMCs are community midwives. These midwives work in the community and are funded directly by the Ministry of Health. They are independent practitioners in the same way that GPs are in that they run there own practices.
The community midwife will, generally, provide all antenatal care, labour and birth care at the hospital, birthing unit or home and postnatal care at the woman’s home.
They generally work in small practices with other midwives who provide back up in case the midwife is busy at a birth or on holiday or ill to make sure the woman can always access care when needed.
The community midwives will refer women to hospital or private obstetricians if there is a clinical need to do so.
Midwives only provide maternity care so if the woman has a separate medical problem, the midwife will refer them to their GP or the hospital depending what is required.
Some obstetricians and a very few GPs also provide LMC care.
Looking for a Midwife?
It is really important that you book with a midwife as soon as possible in the pregnancy as if the booking is left too late, the choice of midwife may be reduced – midwifes generally only book a limited number of women each month so as to make sure they can provide care when needed.
To book a midwife, you will need to provide some information so the midwife can asses whether they can take you. That information will include:
- Due date
- First or subsequent pregnancy
- Were previous births, if any, normal or did you have a caesarean section?
- Date of birth
- Where you live
- Any preference for where you want to birth the baby
- Contact phone numbers
- Details of previous midwife if any
You can enquire by completing the form or call 0800 300 022 to speak to one of our staff.