Having a baby in Canberra’s public system

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Helping women find
the best maternity care

The Canberra Maternity Options Service is a single entry point for all women wishing to access public maternity services in the ACT.

It’s not always clear what new parents need to do when they find out they’re having a baby.

Canberra Maternity Options Service (CMOS) provides women with the right care at the right place and at the right time. 

GPs play a vital role in maternity care. Women will often see their GP for pregnancy confirmation, screening investigations and ongoing routine pregnancy care.  In the longer term, the GP will continue to provide health care for the woman and her family into the future.

Referral to CMOS at around 8 weeks is the optimal time, as the first CMOS appointment should be at around 10 weeks.

Delayed referral will reduce chances of women achieving their preferred model of care.

Please Note: You can no longer refer patients directly to the hospital.

CMOS is the only entry point. 

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What is the role of the GP in maternity care?

The role of the GP is important and won’t change. The comprehensive GP CMOS referral will help inform the health and wellbeing assessment and model of care discussion with the midwife.

Many GPs offer GP Shared Care. This model of care is included in what is offered during the first meeting with a midwife. You may like to discuss this option with your patient.

For more information on GP shared care go to: https://gphealthnet.act.gov.au/c/health_gpw?a=apps&ap=gpw

What are the models of pregnancy care offered?

The model of care allocated takes into consideration the information on the GP referral, the CMOS health and wellbeing assessment, clinical history, preference, proximity to the woman’s home and any individual needs of the woman and their family. The models of care that may be offered are:

  • Maternity Care Team:
    Antenatal care is provided by midwives in a clinic setting, with referral to a medical team if necessary.
  • Continuity of Midwifery Care - Low Risk:
    Midwifery Continuity programs are offered at Calvary Public Hospital and Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. Women see a known (primary) midwife or small team of midwives throughout pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. This model is ideal for women, with uncomplicated pregnancies, who desire an active birth and natural pain relief, with minimal intervention and a short hospital stay.
  • Continuity of Midwifery Care - All Risk:
    Continuity of midwifery care is suitable for all women, including those with complex and high-risk pregnancies, wanting care from a known (primary) midwife. A primary midwife provides care for women throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period. Women who have existing or pregnancy related health concerns are referred to medical and allied health appointments as necessary.
  • Home Birth:
    Home Birth is only available for eligible women based on the homebirth criteria. Antenatal, birth and postnatal care is provided by a primary midwife. Labour and birth is planned to occur in the woman’s home, with the primary midwife, together with a second midwife accredited to provide homebirth care.
  • Specialist Care Team:
    Antenatal care is provided for women with complexities in their pregnancies by the team of midwives, medical staff and allied health professionals in a hospital clinic setting.
  • Fetal Medicine Unit Care *NB only at Centenary Hospital for Women & Children
    The Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU) provides care to women with complex or high-risk pregnancies requiring specialised care for either maternal or fetal reasons. Women will be referred to this service by their midwife, doctor or GP if necessary. Care is provided by a team of specialist doctors, sonographers and a designated midwife who provide continuity of antenatal care for those women experiencing complex pregnancies.

Early Pregnancy Information Sessions

Your patient can be directed to the Early Pregnancy Information Sessions which explain the models of care offered and provide early pregnancy information. Bookings can be made through: Eventbrite.

What happens in the CMOS appointment?

The CMOS appointment is a comprehensive health and wellbeing assessment performed by an experienced midwife. This appointment takes approximately 1 hour. The midwife will identify the models of care that are available for your patient, taking into consideration their individual needs.

You will be informed by letter of the model of care preference your patient has chosen. Please note, the final model of care will be allocated by the hospital – taking into account case load and priority (e.g Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are given priority as part of the Closing the Gap Strategy)

Following the CMOS appointment, your patient will commence their model of care at either Centenary Hospital for Women and Children or Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce. Your patient will be contacted by the relevant hospital to arrange their first appointment.

Do all women need a CMOS appointment?

Yes. All women living in the ACT who want to access Canberra’s public maternity system need to be referred to CMOS and meet with a midwife to commence their antenatal care.

This is regardless of their previous experience of ACT public maternity care.

CMOS is the only entry point.

How do I refer a patient to CMOS?

Referral at confirmation of pregnancy is ideal (around 8 weeks). Referrals to CMOS are sent by:

On receipt of referral Central Health Intake will phone your patient and arrange an appointment time.

Alternatively, the patient can book their own CMOS appointment by calling the Central Health Intake (5124 9977)

How do I refer a patient with a high risk pregnancy?

If you identify a health issue that indicates a woman is likely to have a high risk pregnancy you can refer them directly to the Fetal Medicine Unit at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children by faxing 5124 3154.

Where can I find more information about high risk pregnancy?


Healthpathways ACT/NSW

What if my patient wants to use a private maternity service?

The referral pathway for private maternity care remains unchanged. If your patient chooses to see a private obstetrician for their pregnancy care, you will need to provide them with a referral to see an obstetrician of their choice.

Private midwifery services are also available across the territory. For more information visit https://www.havingababyincanberra.org.au/

Do I send pathology and ultrasound results to CMOS?

Yes. Please send results to the Central Health Intake when available. Results can be:

  • faxed to 5124 1082

Please add ‘CMOS’ to your pathology and ultrasound request forms to automatically have results sent through to CMOS if they are not available at referral.

Add ‘copy to CMOS’ for chromosomal and morphology scans, which will generally occur after the CMOS appointment.

Can CMOS refer women for ultrasound and pathology?

No. This is the role of the GP.

What happens if my patient lives in NSW and wants to use ACT’s Public Maternity System?

Women living in NSW are encouraged to birth close to home. Please support your NSW patients to access their local maternity services to start their maternity care.

NSW patients who choose to birth in the ACT have access to the range of models of care except for ‘continuity’. Additionally, the CMOS appointment is by phone and this will occur on receipt of referral. Referral is by:

What happens if my NSW patient has a high risk pregnancy?

Please refer NSW patients experiencing a high risk pregnancy to the Fetal Medicine Unit at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children by faxing the referral to 5124 3154.

This care pathway is the same for ACT and NSW women.

What if my patient has not heard from the hospital after their CMOS appointment?

If your patient has not heard from the hospital by 16 weeks you may advise them to contact the relevant antenatal clinic to follow up.

If your patient was over 16 weeks when referred, and they have not heard from the hospital within 2 weeks of their CMOS appointment, please advise them to contact the relevant antenatal clinic to follow up.,

  • Centenary Hospital for Women and Children antenatal clinic: 5124 7625
  • Calvary Public Hospital Bruce antenatal clinic: 6201 6359

What care options are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients?

The Closing the Gap Strategy (2008) and The Closing the Gap Refresh (2018) focuses on providing culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families.

Any woman who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or woman whose child will identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, can choose to receive their care through Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services or Canberra’s public or private maternity system.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are given priority for their birth model of care preference when their model of care is allocated.

Can my patient book their own CMOS appointment?

Yes. Your patient can book their own CMOS appointment by phoning Central Health Intake on 5124 9977.

NOTE: You are still required to provide a referral for your patients appointment. This can be provided by:

I have a referral query.

For referral queries please e-mail chiintake@act.gov.au.

Patient resources

To help inform your patients of Canberra Maternity Options, you’ll find some handouts to print below:

Your patients can find out more about their options online at health.act.gov.au/maternity

Maternity postcard Maternity brochure Maternity poster
Page last updated on: 11 Jun 2021