What is a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)?
A Lead Maternity Carer or LMC is a person who provides personal maternity care and support throughout your pregnancy, labour and the first weeks (4-6 weeks) of baby’s life. They could be midwives, your GP/doctor or a specialist doctor known as an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist.
A midwife is a person who specialises in pregnancy and birth and has successfully completed a recognised course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the required qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery.
Choose an LMC carefully as they will be an important person. Consider someone who another woman has recommended, who is skilled, experienced and empathetic; interested in your birthing preferences; respectful to your cultural values and practices; and has informed you about the possible complications and interventions of childbirth. You need to completely trust your LMC. Your LMC will talk with you and make sure that your fears and anxieties have been well addressed. If you do not feel comfortable with your LMC or have any concerns, you have a right to change your LMC – it is perfectly normal and okay to change if your relationship with your LMC is not working out for you (see ‘Find Help’ for midwives in your area).
Part of taking care of yourself is seeing your midwife/LMC
Health care for pregnant women is referred to as ‘maternity care’ in New Zealand. Maternity care is mostly free for New Zealand citizens, permanent residents (or their pregnant partners) and students with visas. Once you are pregnant, you will need to choose a lead maternity carer (LMC). Your GP or nurse can give you information on how to contact a LMC.
The options for maternity care are:
- community midwife – FREE
- midwife team employed by the hospital – FREE
- hospital specialist and midwife team for high-risk pregnancies – FREE (ADHB)
- shared care (GP + midwife – some GP clinics but not all have this service) – FREE (CMDHB)
- private obstetrician (user pays)
Maternity Care includes
- Free LMC visits before and after birth including any specialist visits that your midwife or GP may refer you to (e.g. Obstetrician & Gynaecologist).
- Routine pregnancy checks which include taking blood pressure readings, urine tests, weight measurements and general antenatal care.
- Screening for conditions or illnesses like, HIV, Down syndrome, spina bifida, and other congenital conditions which are usually done in the first trimester.
- Referral for ultrasound scans. Depending on which stage of pregnancy they are done at, ultrasound scans will be able to accurately date your pregnancy by measuring your baby, check your baby has a heartbeat, examine your baby to check all their organs are developing normally, diagnose certain abnormalities such as spina bifida, see how your baby is growing and more Search for NZ pregnancy ultrasound services here.
- Make arrangements for delivery
It is important to seek maternity care as soon as you know you are pregnant. Maintaining regular antenatal visits with your chosen LMC will reduce or identify many medical conditions that can arise in pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, antenatal depression and pre-eclampsia.
A detailed description of what your midwife will provide during the different stages of pregnancy and after your baby is born is available below:
- Maternity care in the first trimester
- Maternity care in the second trimester
- Maternity care in the third trimester
- Labour and birth
- After your baby is born
To receive a FREE pregnancy week by week guide which shows the changes you and your baby are going through, download the Mokopuna Ora app or the Tapuaki app in the Google Play store.