Maternity care and privacy
What healthcare can I get while I’m pregnant?
You can access healthcare and support from a midwife or doctor from early in your pregnancy up until four to six weeks after your baby is born – this is called “maternity care”.
Throughout the process, you’ll choose a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) who organises your maternity care. Your LMC could be a midwife, a doctor or specialist obstetrician.
Your LMC will make a plan with you for your care including your labour and birth, talk to you about how to stay healthy during pregnancy and be with you during your labour and birth. They will also offer screening and tests to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
For more information you can visit the Ministry of Health website (health.govt.nz) and search “maternity care”.
Do I have to pay for visits to a doctor or midwife?
Most maternity care from your doctor or midwife is free. You may have to pay for an ultrasound scan or for prenatal (during pregnancy) or childbirth education classes (there are usually free options available). If you choose to go to a private obstetrician you will have to pay, but if you are referred by your doctors then that will be free as well.
What if I am from overseas?
You are eligible for free maternity care if you are a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident, or your partner is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
If you are not any of these you may be charged for medical help during your pregnancy, labour, birth and care after your baby arrives.
Can a doctor or midwife pass on information to my parents (or to the other parent)?
Not usually. The information you share with your doctors is private and your doctor can’t discuss information about you or your treatment to anyone else without your consent, except in specific circumstances.
Your doctor or midwife is under a professional obligation to keep any information about you confidential. If you have any concerns about information being passed to your parents, guardian or to your partner, you can discuss this with your doctor or midwife.
When can a doctor or midwife pass on information about my health?
If a doctor or midwife believes that there is a serious risk of harm to you (whether self-harm or harm caused by another person) they may be able to inform your parents or an appropriate agency if this would help to keep you safe.
The doctor or midwife may also be able to pass on information if you are under 18 and they think you have been physically or sexually abused. If this is the case a doctor or midwife could report it to the Police or to Oranga Tamariki.
Can I see my medical records?
Yes, and you can ask for your own copy. There may be a charge to cover the copying costs.
Can anyone else see my medical records?
Only the staff who are involved with your medical care or with the administration of the medical clinic. They are not allowed to share your information with anyone else unless it is part of your treatment or you give consent.
What if I’m not happy with my doctor or midwife?
You can change your doctor or midwife without giving a reason. You can give permission to your new doctor to get your medical records from your previous doctor or midwife.
You should always feel free to talk to your doctor or midwife about anything that is bothering you or that you are uncomfortable about. You can take a friend or support person along with you when you visit your doctor or midwife.
What are my rights when I use a health service?
When you are using a health service, like going to see your doctor or midwife, you have the right to:
- Be treated with respect: you should be treated well and listened to.
- Freedom from discrimination, coercion, harassment, and exploitation: you should be treated the same as others and you should not be made to feel that you have to do things you don’t want to.
- Dignity and independence: you should be supported to do as much as you can for yourself.
- Services of an appropriate standard: you should be provided with good care and support.
- Effective communication: you should be spoken to in a way you understand and people should check that you’ve understood.
- Be fully informed: you should be told what is happening to you, what your choices are, the results of any tests or treatment and how much it will cost you.
- Make an informed choice and give informed consent: you should be supported to make your own choices – you can always say no to receiving care.
- Support: you can have someone with you when you use a health service.
- Rights in respect of teaching or research
- Complain: you can complain if you aren’t happy with the service and people will listen to your concerns.
How do I make a complaint if I am not happy with my medical treatment?
If you’re unhappy with your visit, for any reason, you can raise your concerns with the person who provided you with that treatment (if you feel comfortable doing so), or you can make a complaint. This could be because you feel that your doctor or midwife didn’t treat you with respect, was talking down to you, or not explaining decisions that affect you.
You can complain directly to the Health and Disability Commissioner, the Medical Council of New Zealand, the New Zealand College of Midwives (about a midwife). A Health and Disability Consumer Advocate could help you make a complaint.