Care that is focused on the woman and her baby is the philosophy underpinning pregnancy (maternity) care at GSMC. This means that there is an emphasis on continuity of care between a woman and her doctor at all stages of pregnancy, birth and in the months that follow.
Our GP obstetricians provide pregnancy care to women both at the clinic and during the birth at the West Gippsland Hospital. Our GP Obstetricians (GPO) all have the DRANZCOG Advanced qualification from RANZCOG and work closely with the consultant obstetricians and midwives at West Gippsland Hospital. Our GPO’s provide both vaginal and caesarean section services.
Because of the emphasis on providing continuity of care to pregnant woman, the majority of pregnancy care at GSMC is with your GP obstetrician (GPO). Our current GP obstetricians are Drs Esha Gopee, Lauren Downie, Patrick Ruane and Louise Sterling.
Shared care, where visits are shared between two different clinicians is available. For women with special needs, this could be with a consultant obstetrician or midwife.
Please note, as of January 2020 after 16 years of delivering babies at West Gippsland Hospital, Dr Louise Sterling is only providing shared pregnancy care, partnering with the consultant obstetricians at the hospital.
Pregnancy Care Appointments
Whilst all care is individualised to a woman’s specific needs, there are some common elements to pregnancy care for all women.
Initially a pregnancy needs to be confirmed to be alive and in the correct location within the uterus (womb), and an assessment made as to whether there are any features of the woman’s’ health that requires specific care. This assessment is done through asking lots of questions about a woman’s current health status, medical history, family history and social situation, performing a physical examination and by ordering specific tests including blood and urine tests and ultrasound scans. It is recommended that this assessment occurs in the first few months of pregnancy, usually around eight to 10 weeks gestation, and we recommend a longer appointment booking for this ‘new” antenatal’ visit.
Throughout the Pregnancy
After the initial visit it would then be common to see women monthly until 28 weeks of pregnancy, then fortnightly until 36 weeks of pregnancy. Finally, women are seen weekly until the baby is born. These ‘review’ antenatal visits require a routine appointment booking.
It is usual for women having pregnancy care at GSMC to also have involvement with our clinic nursing and midwifery staff throughout their pregnancy. In addition to this, all women planning on birthing their baby at West Gippsland Hospital will be offered one or two ‘booking appointments’ with a hospital midwife to complete paperwork, arrange antenatal education and to discuss birth, feeding and early parenting plans.
All care relating to birth, whether this includes spontaneous labour, an induction of labour or an elective Caesarean section, will occur at West Gippsland Hospital. Our GP obstetricians are part of the obstetric team at West Gippsland Hospital who look after women in hospital when they are birthing their babies. All women have access to continuous midwifery care during labour.
Whilst a mother is in hospital with her baby, the obstetric team and hospital midwives will care for them. All women are offered a follow up home visit by one of the hospital-based midwives through the extended postnatal care ‘EPC’ program (please note that if you live outside of the Baw Baw Shire this will be provided by midwives from another hospital).
We recommend a follow up visit at the clinic between 1-2 weeks post birth. The purpose of this visit is to ensure that mother, baby and family are doing well, to follow up any issues arising from the birth, and to identify and address any early postnatal issues. Contraception choices will also be explored (you may be interested in our GippSnip service).
A final visit is recommended for mothers and babies around 6-8 weeks post birth. This is to ensure that mother and baby have recovered from birth normally, are thriving, and that preventative care is up to date (cervical screening, contraception, immunisations etc).
GSMC is primarily a private billing clinic. This means that consultation fees are charged at the time of the visit.
There are reduced fees for Health Care Card holders. All pensioners and children under the age of 16 years are bulk-billed (no fees are charged).
Please note that there are no fees charged to patients for their hospital based pregnancy care.
Suggested Websites for Pregnancy Related Information
There is a lot of information and advice available to women when they are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant, or have recently given birth. Often this is helpful, sometimes it is not! Below are links to a list of resources that are of high quality, evidence based and recommended by our clinic.
West Gippsland Healthcare Group
Pregnancy and birth
The Royal Women’s Hospital Fact sheets
Food and nutrition
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Parenting in West Gippsland