Friends of Belmont Birthing

Frequently asked Questions

Pregnancy Questions

What is different about Belmont?

Belmont Midwifery Group Practice is a midwife led birthing unit which offers continuity of care, and is supported by the Maternity and Gynaecology department at John Hunter Hospital.

What is Continuity of Care?

Continuity of care is where a woman is able to develop a relationship with her midwife to work in partnership for the provision of her care during pregnancy, labour birth and the postnatal period.

Belmont midwives work in small teams. A midwife will be assigned to a pregnant woman, and that midwife will co-ordinate all of her care with her. The pregnant woman can expect to see her primary midwife for most visits, but will also get to know the rest of the team. Belmont midwives work closely together and share a lot of their women's stories. Once labour commences the woman can expect to have her midwife or one of the team members by her side until the baby is born.

How can I start my care with Belmont midwives?

You can self refer to Belmont. Just call 49232108 between 8:30 - 2:30pm, Mon- Fri.

Will my spiritual and cultural ideas be listened to?

Belmont Midwifery Group Practice prides itself on listening to the varieties of spiritual and cultural approaches to childbirth. The midwives welcome your views, and will help you to incorporate them into your birth experience. If you encounter any boundaries along the way, the Belmont midwives will act as your advocate, to help you experience the pregnancy and birth you desire.

Will my parenting ideas be listened to?

You will have the opportunity to discuss your ideas for how you would like to birth your baby with your midwife and these can be incorporated into your birth plan where safe. Your midwife may also have suggestions which you might like to adopt.

How are my appointments scheduled?

Your appointments are scheduled between you and your midwife at a time convenient to both of you. Team midwifery is characterised by much shorter waiting times and longer, individualised appointments. Of course, your midwife may need to cancel from time to time if one of her other women has gone into labour. However, when it is your turn, you will be assured that you are the primary focus.

Can I do a tour of the maternity unit, even before I'm pregnant?

Of course. If you would like to do a tour, and discuss whether the Belmont philosophy of birth is for you, then by all means telephone them on 4923 2108 to make arrangements.
Try the Virtual tour, our room is the last one at the bottom.

What if I have a question?

You are very likely to have lots of questions during your pregnancy. Many can be discussed at your ante-natal appointments. If your midwife does not know, they will find out for you and telephone you to give you the answer. However, if something happens during your pregnancy which is of medical concern to you, then you can simply telephone your midwife's mobile phone and ask the question.

Does Belmont have ante-natal classes?

The Birth and Parenting Education unit at John Hunter Hospital co-ordinate all antenatal classes in the area. Classes are held at John Hunter Hospital, Belmont Hospital, or The Place at Charlestown Square. For more information call 4921 3992, or email

Will I have help developing my birth plan?

The midwives at Belmont have attended many births, and have seen many variations on what women and their families want for their birth. Your midwife will be able to discuss your ideas with you, offer suggestions, and advise you whether your birth plan is realistic in your particular circumstances.

Another advantage of continuity of care is that you will have plenty of opportunities to refine your plan!

Will I ever see an obstetrician?

If your pregnancy progresses normally and you experience a spontaneous onset of labour within 42 weeks, you may have no need to see an obstetrician. If you are post-term (greater than 41 weeks), your midwife will consult with the staff at the John Hunter Hospital to arrange an optimal time when the birth of your baby may be induced (all inductions take place at John Hunter).

If complications arise during your pregnancy, you may be referred to obstetric care at John Hunter Hospital for consultation and ongoing care.

Does Belmont accept Vaginal Births After a Caesarian (VBACs)?

Women who have had a caesarean section during previous births are encouraged to birth at the John Hunter Hospital and are unlikely to be approved for care by Belmont.

There is a special group of midwives in the Yemaya team at John Hunter for VBACs.


Labour Questions

What do I do when I think I'm in labour?

When you go into labour, you will telephone your midwife, who will discuss your situation, give you advice, and decide the next step. The next step may be checking on you at home, or meeting you at your desired birth location.

What if my midwife isn't available?

If your midwife is away or unavailable their mobile phone will be diverted to another midwife, so you don't need to remember any other phone numbers. If a midwife is unable to attend the birth for a woman in their care, one of the others in the group practice will be there. And it is quite likely that you will have already met this midwife.
Belmont midwives have a shared philosophy of midwifery practise.

What do I need to bring to hospital?

Labour: The birthing rooms have, in addition to a bed and other medical facilities, a mat for the floor, a glider chair, a birthing stool, a fit ball, iPod dock, electric oil burner and a CD player. You should bring your own iPod dock or CDs, and anything else which will make you feel relaxed. Talk to your midwife if you are unsure about whether a particular item is permitted in the birthing room. Pets are not allowed. You should bring clothes which are comfortable to labour in, if you are not wearing them already. Your support person should bring an extra change of clothes as they often get wet while assisting you in the shower or bath. You may want a headband or hair band to keep your hair off your face.

It can be helpful to have some food and drink, if not for yourself, for your support person. Foods such as fruit, muesli bars and of course, chocolate, can give you the energy you need. Belmont has a fridge or freezer if you need it, please write your name on anything you wish to store in there.

After the birth: You will need a change of clothes for yourself and your baby. You should also bring your usual toiletries to help you freshen up, and a good supply of maternity pads.

Don't forget your camera, and batteries/charger, to take those all important first photos.

You need to make sure your car seat is installed in the car so you can take your baby home from the hospital. Steve at Child Safe Hunter Valley does a fantastic job at making sure your car is fitted with the appropriate seat, they operate out of the John Hunter Hospital car park. Bookings essential, call 4921 3374.

Parking at Belmont Hospital

Parking at Belmont is much easier than at John Hunter. It is a $4 flat rate. Bring coins.

What happens if I develop complications during pregnancy?

Belmont is designed for low-risk pregnancies. This means that the risk of complications is lower to start with. However, complications do arise even when there are no indicators prior to pregnancy and/or labour.

The National Midwifery Guidelines for Consultation and Referral 2013 is the document which midwives consult in the event of a complication. Belmont midwives use the guidelines to help women have the best and most appropriate care. Your midwife can discuss your circumstances with the consultant obstetrician at the John Hunter, and assist in deciding whether to provide short term support, or transfer of primary care.

Belmont midwives have a good relationship with the John Hunter obstetricians, and you can be assured both professionals are working towards giving you the pregnancy and birth experience you desire, where possible.

The Belmont midwives also discuss pregnancy variations with one another, and are able to draw on each other's experience to provide you with the best possible care. Because your midwife knows you and your circumstances, they are in a good position to advise the best course of action for you.

What if my pregnancy continues past 41 weeks?

If your due date has come and gone, your midwife will discuss your options with you. Your options will depend upon your health and the health of your baby, and of course your own preferences as much as safely possible. If you are to be induced, the induction will take place at John Hunter Hospital. Your midwife will still provide postnatal care for you when you leave the hospital.

Will I have a say in my labour?

Yes. Your labour is your experience, and your midwife is there to assist and advise you.

Can I have a water birth?

Yes, you can have a water birth. Belmont has a very large bath in the centre of each of its birthing rooms. Your midwife can talk to you about whether a water birth is for you. The majority of women at Belmont use the birth pools for pain relief, and many babies are born in the water. It is a lovely gentle way for a baby to be born.

Can I have a Lotus birth?

Yes. If you would like a Lotus birth, you should raise this with your midwife. A Lotus birth is when the cord is not clamped, but remains connected to the placenta until the cord dries and drops off, usually 2-3 days after birth.

Can I have a home birth?

Yes. You must live within a 30 minute zone from the John Hunter Hospital. Contact BMGP with your address to determine your eligibility.

Who can I have at my birth?

There is no limit on whom you can bring to your birth. You should make sure you are comfortable with the people who will be with you, and let them know in advance to respect your decision if you change your mind about anything during labour. You may wish to have some people come and go, which is also fine.

Can I bring a doula?

You are welcome to bring a doula with you. The doula is your support person, and is independent from the Belmont Midwifery Group Practice. The Belmont midwives are keen for the birth of your baby to be a positive experience, and welcome anyone who will support you in this.

Can I bring my children to my labour?

Yes. If you plan to bring your children to your labour, it is advisable to bring someone to look after them, and to be available to take them out of the labour room if it becomes too distressing for them. Before you decide to bring your children, you should consider how your response to labour pains will impact upon the children, and what will happen to them in the event of an emergency.

What are the pain management techniques?

Good preparation and understanding the purpose of pain in labour go a long way to building your confidence to manage it.
"Looking back the body is kind with the contractions building slowly over time and just when you think 'I can't take any more" it starts to fade, and you breathe a sigh of relief." - from the Luca Rae birth story

Many women manage pain effectively with water immersion in the bath or under the shower, movement, positioning, massage, hot packs, ice packs and Nitrous Oxide (gas).
“The contractions were coming much more often now and were getting intense. The warm water felt wonderful. It was deep enough for me to feel supported and the water eased the intensity of the contractions as they came.” - from the Healing Homebirth story

Knowing that you’ll never be left alone in pain helps a lot too. A midwife is always with you to help you manage it.

Morphine or epidural pain relief can only be provided at John Hunter Hospital where midwives from delivery suite will take over your care in the event that you transfer.

Can I deliver my placenta naturally?

Belmont midwives can offer you the opportunity to have a physiological (natural) 3rd stage, or active management (syntocinon injection). You should discuss your preferences with your midwife.

What happens if I have complications during labour?

The safety of you and your baby is paramount, and will form the basis for all advice given to you by your midwife during labour and birth. Midwives are skilled and are prepared for complications. Belmont Midwives complete regular mandatory training and a higher level of professional practise review than those working in a tertiary hospital.

If any complications require additional medical support or procedures, transfer to a higher level obstetric care will be discussed between you, your midwife and the consultant obstetrician at John Hunter Hospital. If transfer is required it will be made in a timely and appropriate manner, and your midwife will go with you if possible. John Hunter Hospital will know you are coming and will have everything ready for you and your baby. You may think it is preferable to be at a hospital with an operating theatre. This is not necessarily the case as the theatre still needs to be prepared. It is the experience of the Belmont midwives that your care is not compromised in any way by the short distance between hospitals.

If you and your midwives decide that it is best for you to transfer to John Hunter Hospital, then it is important to know if you choose to call an ambulance for the transfer that the cost of the ambulance is not covered by BMGP. It is always a good idea to have ambulance cover with a private health insurer.

If I get transferred to JHH will my Belmont midwife come with me?

Sometimes. Belmont midwives collaborate well with staff at JHH. If necessary the staff at JHH will continue your care after you have been transferred (if the Belmont midwife needs to leave and the other midwives in their team are caring for others at a homebirth or Belmont).

Postnatal Questions

How long will I stay in hospital?

Belmont has no facilities for a postnatal overnight stay. You will stay in hospital long enough for your midwife to ensure that you are fit and healthy and that the baby is settled and feeding. You can expect to be home the same day as you have given birth, unless your baby arrives in the middle of the night. New mums are not "sick" and the Belmont philosophy is that new families are happiest and healthiest in their own homes.

Your midwife will visit you at home a number of times for the first 2 weeks of your baby's life to monitor you and your baby. When you and your midwife are satisfied that all is progressing normally you will be discharged. By this time, you will feel confident to continue on your own, supported by the local Child and Family Health Nursing Service.

Where do I go if I have problems with breastfeeding?

Your midwife will still be in contact with you for the first two weeks, and can help you get breastfeeding established. Your midwife will teach you how to breastfeed before you leave Belmont. Your midwife will continue to talk to you about breastfeeding, and will help you at home to make sure your baby is attached properly.

Your midwife can also help you access services for extra assistance.

What happens if there is a problem with the baby?

Your baby can be admitted straight to the John Hunter nursery without the need for an independent assessment and completion of paperwork.

What do I do in my first few days at home?

Before you leave hospital, your midwife will make an appointment with you to come and visit you at home. Your baby will be weighed and checked, and you will get to spend some time talking to your midwife about how it is all going, and discuss any concerns you may have. At each appointment, you and your midwife will assess if and when you need another appointment. You can expect 4-10 home visits, depending upon how you and your baby are progressing. As part of the hospital paperwork, your midwife will notify your local Child and Family Health Service about the birth of your baby. The community nurse should make contact with you in the first few weeks, or you can contact them directly to make an appointment.

Who can I talk to about postnatal depression?

Your GP can refer you to a psycholgist if you wish. Friends of Belmont Birthing recommend The Hummingbird Centre at Warners Bay.


More questions?

Call Belmont on 4923 2108. Every woman and each of her pregnancies are individual, they are happy to answer questions regarding any circumstance.