How to Choose Your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)
Your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) will be at the core of your care during your pregnancy. Choosing the right LMC is important and our guide can help
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You might have a wish list for your perfect partner – generous with the back rubs, happiest when cooking dinner, always up for tackling the humane removal of bugs – but this is another partner you need to consider carefully.
Your LMC – lead maternity carer – is your partner through pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.
This guide will help you understand what they do and how to find the best LMC for you.
What is a LMC?
A LMC manages your care throughout your pregnancy and for 6 weeks after your baby’s birth.
Although they’re usually a community or hospital-based midwife, they can also be a GP or private obstetrician.
When should I get a LMC?
Once you find out you’re pregnant, you should register with a LMC. This will help your pregnancy get off to the best possible start.
What does a LMC do?
Your LMC is responsible for looking after your health during your pregnancy, labour and birth and until your baby is 6 weeks old. They will:
- See you regularly throughout your pregnancy. Visits will become more frequent as your pregnancy progresses.
- Provide all your care or share the care with other practitioners. This is especially true if you choose a private obstetrician.
- Give you information to help you make choices about your care.
- Refer you or your baby to a specialist, if necessary.
- Work with you on a plan for your care, including your labour and birth.
- Be with you during your labour and birth.
- Visit you at the hospital, birthing centre or your home between 5-10 times after baby is born.
- Refer you to your chosen Well Child provider (normally this is Plunket) somewhere between 4-6 weeks after birth.
- Be available 24/7 for help and advice at any stage of your pregnancy. If they’re not available, their backup will be.
You can contact your LMC at any time if you have any concerns about your pregnancy. This could include bleeding, excessive vomiting, if you think your waters have broken, abdominal pain, baby is moving less or any other concerns.
What happens during my LMC visits?
At your regular LMC visits, they will:
- Feel your abdomen to check your baby’s growth, position and heartbeat.
- Take your blood pressure.
- Use a foetal Doppler monitor to listen to your baby’s heartbeat (usually not until 10-12 weeks).
- Tell you what other tests you need to check on you and baby. These will include blood tests and ultrasounds.
- Provide plenty of helpful information about staying healthy, nutrition, exercise, stopping smoking and drinking, and more.
What does a LMC cost?
Your LMC is free if you’re a:
- New Zealand citizen.
- Permanent resident.
- Work permit holder who can stay for 2 years.
If you choose a private obstetrician, you’ll need to pay.
The Ministry of Health’s website has a full set of eligibility criteria.
If you’re not eligible, but your partner is, your maternity care may be publicly funded. All babies born in New Zealand are eligible for free care if their mum is eligible for free maternity care. Not sure if you’re eligible? Call the Mum2Be helpline on 0800 686 223.
Even if your LMC is free, you may need to pay for your antenatal classes and ultrasound scans.
How do I find a LMC?
If you go to your doctor to confirm your pregnancy, they may recommend a midwife to you.
Or, if you have any pregnant friends or family, ask them for recommendations.
Or visit Find your Midwife, which is a brilliantly helpful website.
Once you’ve found one you like the look of, the first step is to check they’re available around your due date.
How do I choose a LMC?
You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your LMC. You need to trust them and develop a close relationship – they’ll be the ones delivering your baby after all!
To help choose the right one for you, ask them:
- Whether they do home or water births or which hospital they work at, depending on what you’re planning.
- What qualifications they have and how they stay up-to-date.
- Whether they provide all your care, or if they work with another practitioner.
- If they don’t provide all your care, who else is involved, what care will they provide, and can you meet them?
- Where their clinic is and how often you’ll have appointments.
- What post-natal care looks like – whether they’ll do it themselves, how many visits you’ll get.
- About back-up arrangements if they’re not available.
- What their intervention rate is, if you’re planning a natural birth.
- About the costs and payment system, if you’ve chosen an obstetrician.
Have a think about any strong beliefs you have around pregnancy and childbirth. Make sure your LMC can provide care that supports your beliefs.
You might have some special requirements, like health, cultural or religious ones. Check your LMC can support and provide for these.
Can I change my LMC?
Yes! If, for whatever reason, it’s not working out with your LMC, you can change them at any time.
Make sure you’ve found another LMC that’s able to continue your care before making a change.