Public vs Private

Decisions

So by 8-10 weeks it is recommended that you choose whether you will go public or private for your pregnancy.

Now for many women this might not even be a choice because you may not have health insurance to cover you for pregnancy.

I also was quite clueless on my private health insurance but luckily I had a colleague at work who talked me through private health insurance and private care during pregnancy or else I think I would have no clue and also would not be in a position in choosing.

12 Months Waiting

  1. I’m not sure how it works in other countries, but in Australia, you can not make a claim on pregnancy unless you have been with the private health insurer for 12 months or more. So its not like you can fall pregnant and then sign up to private health insurance. You need to be with your insurer well before you fall pregnant.
  2. You also need to check what level of pregnancy cover you get! From looking on my side, it seems you have to get top hospital cover to be able to be covered for pregnancy at all the private hospitals. Some health insurance have basic level pregnancy cover, which only covers you for a private room in a public hospital and that’s about it.

Now please keep in mind that Australia as many would know have one of the best public healthcare systems in the world especially when it comes to mothers and their babies. Also the care at many of the public hospitals from what I hear is fantastic.

Like I say, everyone has their own cicumstances to think of.

Going private is definetly more expensive.

I have a more detailed expense breakdown as I have been keeping count on our expenses related to going private. Below is a breakdown (rough. If you want an exact number just ask me and I’m happy to add it up until now):

  • c$160 per month for private health insurance
  • $200 for the initial obstetrician visit
  • $100 for all follow up visits (this could be 10-12 visits all up)
  • $4,000 plan maangement fee (now this amount varies per doctor. Anywhere between $3,000-$7,000)
  • $200-$300 for ultrasounds (usually 3 throughout the pregnancy)
  • $70 per day in hospital co-payment (this was an option in my health cover that I took up to reduce my premiums)

Now I’m not taking into account what you get back from Medicare, but you do get money back from the OB visits, plan management fee and ultrasounds.

Just as an indication, rough estimates below:

  • On OB visits I was initially getting $40 back but then you hit a threshold which means you get more money back and after I paid the plan management fee, I started getting nearly $75 back on each OB visit
  • I got $500 back on the plan management fee
  • My last ultrasound cost me $209 and I got back $140 from Medicare but that’s because I have hit the threshold. Previous ultrasounds I got back less.

Some advice on ultrasounds. My OB would give me a referral to a certain ultrasound place but you can take that referral to any place that does the required ultrasound and they will accept it. The place my OB referred me to was charging $300+ per ultrasound. I rang around a couple of places in Sydney and found Bondi Junction X-Ray who charge $100 less!

You might get caught up paying more at these other places as well because they can make a DVD out of your ultrasound. In my mind, I don’t know when I will put a DVD in to watch my baby in my womb. I would rather be watching videos of my baby once they are out.

Me and my partner are middle income household earners so we tried to be as mindful as possible with the costs and what is necessary and what is just a waste.

Tip: The excitement of a new baby tends to send mums especially first time mums into spending overdrive! You think you need everything for this baby. A tip from someone who has and is going through this, I always think twice and take a moment before I consider buying whatever it is and always always think this “could this money be better spent on something else for the baby such as education, sports, music leassons or general savings for the baby?”. If you answer yes to this question, then put the product down and walk away.

So you might be asking “Why did you go private?”. My reasons are below. Again keep in mind of your own personal circumstances and do your own research to help you along:

  • My personaility type is that I am a very anxious person and I internalise this anxiousness and being a first time mum, I knew I needed peace of mind. Knowing that I had the same obstetrician seeing me every visit and who will be there for the labour and make the right decisions was important for me to be calm and in peace. This is one thing that is super important during your pregnancy. Stress free and peaceful
  • With my obstetrician I am able to see my baby every time I saw him as he had an ultrasound machine. This has been an amazing experience and I was so excited for my OB visits so I could see our baby, record him/her moving around, hear their heart beat (it still makes me well up in tears when I hear it) and again peace of mind of being able to see that baby is ok! I would tend to think bad things during my pregnancy so the anxiety was pretty bad and especially because you don’t get to feel your baby kick usually until your 4 months or more, so those first 4 months of being able to see and hear baby were so important to me
  • If you go private, you have the option to have an elective cesearean or go natural. In the public system, this option is not available to you unless you have a health problem that would require a c-section. When I fell pregnant I could not decide whether I wanted a c-section or go natural so having the option to go either way was again important for peace of mind (I will go into further details on what I have decided on doing for my birth)
  • Public hospitals are not inclined to wanting to do c-sections purely because it costs more money to have a c-section, not only the actual operation but recovery time is longer than natural and therefore take up more beds longer which means a lot of women who go public will have to go natural and if labour is long, then the hospital will encourage you to keep on carrying on with the labour. One colleague of mine was in labour for 22 hours before they decided to take her in for an emergency c-section. Again, I don’t want to be in a situation where I am not only putting stress on my body but also my baby just because I need to go natural. My OB and myself can agree at what point in time we need to go in for a c-section and having a professional who knows my history gives me assurance that he knows what to do when the time comes.
  • Being my first time going through labour, I wanted the privacy to recover on my own in my own room. In the public system, you are expected to share rooms unless you have a serious condition during or after labour, but the majority of people have to share. With private, you will get your own room if you deliver in a private hospital. You can go private in a public hospital but they still can’t guarantee you a private room which for me defeats the purpose.

Those are some of the reasons that I can think of at the top of my head, but again I want to reiterate that not every couple is in a financial position to be able to go private and to those I say that again, our health system is one of the best in the world and the public health system will look after you and the baby as need be.

For others that can afford to go private, then weigh up the pros and cons. We sat down and went over the numbers but the pros for me and my partner was the fact that I would be in a more peaceful state of mind (which I have been) and stress free when it comes to the baby’s development (again I can vouch for this).

It was also very important for my partner that I have peace of mind so he did not mind paying what we had to pay to achieve this.

In saying that, if everything goes smoothly with this baby, then I’m not sure if I would go private a 2nd time round. Reason being is that my state of mind might be different in that I hope I’m not as anxious second time round as I would already know what to expect but who knows. Will have to wait and see when the time comes.

 

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The first 3 months

First trimester

So one thing that you learn very quickly is that every women, including yourself, is different when it comes to pregnancy.

I am currently 33 weeks pregnant and I have to admit, I have been very lucky with the way my pregnancy has gone but I also think that you may hear the bad things more than you hear about the good pregnancies, just like labour stories.

I have loved being pregnant! And I think its important to tell other pregnant women that you can have an easy pregnancy and hence why I want to share my story with others.

I too was expecting a hard pregnancy just because you hear so many bad things.

My first trimester I suffered from nausea. I didn’t want to eat anything, smells were intensified, so going to the food court made me sick. I think I literally lived off soup and cheese and tomato toasties. I did not want anything else.

Nausea was worst in the morning and I had to travel by bus and train to work so the movement of both made me feel even worse. Also riding in the car made me feel ill. Basically whenever I was moving around I would feel nauseous.

By midday to mid-afternoon the nausea will usually settle down.

To help with the nausea I would always have water on me (and continue doing this throughout your pregnancy) as well as getting fresh air whenever I felt sick.

First trimester I was also extremely tired! Now this was hard to cope with while working. So many times I wanted to go to my bed and just sleep. It’s not recommended to have caffeine during your pregnancy so I just tried to work through the tiredness but I do remember a particular day where I was nauseous during the morning and it really drained me and I had to leave work and go home and was in bed sleeping at 12pm.

I never vomited throughout the first trimester. It was literally nausea that hit me.

Take it easy and listen to your body! I was still adjusting from being a very active person to dealing with the nausea and tiredness and whilst I found it frustrating at the time, you need to understand that your body is working overtime to bring your baby and this precious life into the world and your body is adjusting to this and hence the tiredness and nausea kicking.

Also highly emotional! I cried all the time and I am a very non-emotional person. I would cry on my way to work, I would cry when I see a baby or kid. I was just highly emotional and sensitive. Again, its your hormones running wild and getting ready for your baby. Let yourself cry and all the emotions, good or bad, are perfectly normal.

I had a lot of anxiety those first 3 months which people don’t tell you about. As you will probably hear, the chance of a miscarriage is the highest in the first 3 months, so I was constantly worried. I was so worried. Sick to my stomach worried that I actually don’t know how I coped. I couldn’t help but think the worst sometimes and I was wishing the first 12 weeks away so that I knew baby was in a safer zone.

I won’t lie, it was horrible. The waiting and agonising. I made myself sick on top of the fact I was already nauseous

I can’t give you any advice on how to get through this except that if you make it past the 12 weeks mark then things definitely get easier.

Next up is your 12 week scan and blood test. This scan was incredible for me and my partner. We got to see our baby properly. This scan also tests whether your baby could have down syndrome or spinabifida.

Again the waiting on the results is the worst and at this point in time, most couples don’t tell their friends or extended family until they have received the results.

But enjoy the scan, it’s a most precious moment you will share as a family. Your little one up on the screen, your partner watching on and you get to see the miracle of life growing inside your belly!

What happens next?

What next

So you have found out you are pregnant! Congratulations! But sometimes hearing those words don’t really resonate immediately if like me you weren’t exactly ready to have a baby at that very point in time.

Give yourself time to go through the emotions. Whether good or bad.

I cried for days. I cried on my way to work. I cried when I was home watching TV. I cried if I saw other babies. I just cried.

I cried because I was so overwhelmed. To think I will be bringing in a life into this world that will solely rely on me to raise it and ensure its safety and happiness is such an overwhelming thought that all I could do was cry.

Tip: These thoughts never go away but get easier over your pregnancy to accept and get your head around. You cry. But much less.

If you have done a home pregnancy test, then next step is to go to your GP.

Your GP will run a blood test that will let you know how far along you are and also a general blood test on your health so will give you an STD test as well as look at your iron, iodine etc.

If the results come back that you are 8 weeks or more along, then you will need to do a dating scan.

Now at this point in time to save some money, you should decide on whether you will look to go private or public.

What this means is that you either get an Obstetrician to look after you during the pregnancy and for the delivery or you are taken care of by your GP or the public hospital you will deliver at.

The reason why you would save some money now is that if you decide to go to an Obstetrician, then most OB’s have their own ultrasound and can do the dating scan for you and its included in the initial consultation fee of $200 (that was the consultation fee for my OB so not sure if that’s the norm).

If you did not go to an OB, then you will need to pay for the scan which because I didn’t go that route, I’m not sure how much that is.

Again, be easy on yourself. If you can take a day off work, then do it. If you need to cry, then do it. The first moment when you find out you are pregnant may not always be the reaction you were expecting of yourself but I can say now going through it, I have never been this happy in my life! Pregnancy has been beyond amazing. Richest experience I have ever encountered. It has brought me and my partner closer together. Bonding with my mother has been lovely and so many other countless experiences