Having a baby

This is a guide for people in NSW who are having a baby. It can help you manage your finances, understand your medical care options, be aware of your responsibilities and find support services.


Before you are pregnant

Before trying for a baby, talk to your doctor about:

  • any existing health issues you or your partner have
  • you and your partner's family and genetic history
  • healthy eating and changes to your or your partner's lifestyle
  • any vaccinations you need to get before becoming pregnant

Adopting a healthier lifestyle

You can find information and support to adopt a healthier lifestyle at:

  • NSW Health resources to help you plan a healthy pregnancy 
  • NSW Get Healthy Service call 1300 806 258 for free telephone health coaching to help you get healthy before, during and after pregnancy
  • iCanQuit online resources to help you quit smoking permanently, or call the Quitline on 13 78 48
  • Your Room  treatment and support services for alcohol and other drugs

Planning your finances

Having a baby can mean extra costs as well as changes to your income and lifestyle.

Budgeting in advance can help you be better prepared for:

  • medical costs like doctor and hospital bills
  • baby care costs like prams, car seats and child care
  • living on a reduced income, if taking time off from your job


You usually do not get paid superannuation while you take time off work to care for a baby. This can affect your superannuation total when it comes time to retire.

Before having a baby, you may want to think about:

  • consolidating your superannuation into one fund to save on fees
  • making extra contributions yourself while you’re still working
  • contribution splitting, where your partner splits their superannuation earnings with you while you’re not working

Financial advice

You can get professional financial help for your individual situation at:

Financial support

You can make a pre-claim for some income support payments up to 3 months before your due date. This can save you time after your baby is born.

You can find out more about the different types of financial help available in Section 4: Getting financial support.


If you're trying to get pregnant

Your ability to get pregnant can be affected by your or your partner's:

  • age
  • lifestyle factors like alcohol, smoking, diet and weight
  • medical history
  • family and genetic history

It’s quite common that people trying to have a baby do not get pregnant straight away. There can be many causes for this.

You may want to see your doctor if:

  • you’ve been trying for 12 months or more, or
  • you’re over 35 and have been trying for 6 months or more

Your doctor can recommend a range of tests to find out the reason you have not become pregnant.

It may be a challenging time for you, your partner and your relationship. It can help to talk to someone, including:

  • a professional counsellor
  • a trusted friend or family member
  • an online forum or group of people with similar experiences

You can also get support at:


If you're considering IVF

If you’ve been unsuccessful in getting pregnant, your doctor may suggest using assisted reproductive treatment. The most common type is IVF.

The NSW Government is making IVF services across NSW more affordable by offering:

  • a $500 rebate for out of pocket expenses for pre-IVF fertility testing
  • cheaper IVF treatments at selected IVF clinics
  • a fertility preservation service for cancer patients

When you are pregnant

Learn more about having a baby and what to expect in pregnancy with:


Looking after your health and mental wellbeing

What you put into your body before, during and after pregnancy can affect your baby’s health and development.

Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy will help your baby get all the nutrients they need. Some foods should be avoided when pregnant, as they can make you ill and potentially harm your baby.

Being underweight, overweight or gaining weight too quickly during pregnancy can increase the risk of health problems for you and your baby. 

The pregnancy weight gain calculator can help you work out what your healthy weight gain range is during pregnancy

A healthy lifestyle can also help reduce your risk of developing a pregnancy related health problem.

You can find information and support to adopt a healthier lifestyle at:

Important vitamins during pregnancy

There are some nutrients that you need more of during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about any vitamin supplements you may need.

As well as a healthy diet, your doctor may recommend taking:

  • folate to help protect against neural tube defects, such as spina bifida
  • iodine for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and nervous system
  • iron to prevent you getting anaemia (low red blood cells)

    Dental health

    For some, pregnancy can lead to dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay.

    Poor dental health can affect your pregnancy and increase the risk of your child developing tooth decay.

    Having good oral hygiene reduces the chance of dental problems during pregnancy. This includes:

    • brushing your teeth twice a day
    • flossing daily
    • having a regular dental check-up

    See your dentist before or soon after you become pregnant. It's safe to have dental treatment, but tell your dentist you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

    Reducing the risk of stillbirth

    A stillbirth is when an unborn baby shows no signs of life. You can reduce the risk of stillbirth by:

    • eating a healthy diet
    • not smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs
    • going to all your antenatal appointments
    • monitoring any changes to your baby’s movements
    • sleeping on your side from 28 weeks of pregnancy

    Mental Wellbeing

    It's normal to experience some anxiety and for your emotions to go up and down when expecting a baby. 

    For some people, these feelings can start to affect their daily life. This is known as antenatal anxiety or antenatal depression.  

    Pregnancy support counselling is available from eligible GPs and other health professionals on referral from a GP.

    You can claim Medicare rebates for up to 3 counselling services if you've been pregnant in the last 12 months.

    You can also get information and support at:

    Antenatal classes

    Antenatal classes help you and your partner know what to expect during labour and after your baby is born, including:

    • the signs of labour and when to go to hospital
    • different birthing positions
    • breathing skills to use during labour
    • newborn baby behaviour

    It’s also a chance to meet other expectant parents and share your experiences.

    You can find antenatal classes through your hospital, birth centre or online. The cost of classes will depend on where you live and who is running the class.


    Getting antenatal medical care

    Your pregnancy and birth care options will depend on:

    • where you live and the services available in your area
    • your medical history and risk factors
    • where you decide to give birth
    • if you’re a public or private patient
    • your cultural or personal beliefs

    You will usually have a choice of GP, midwife, obstetrician, or combination of these. When making your decision, it can help to talk to your:

    • partner about what is important to you both
    • friends and family about their own experiences
    • family doctor or GP about your options
    • local hospital about their services

    Screening tests and antenatal care

    Screening tests will show if your baby is at risk of a health condition.

    If a screening test shows a higher than normal risk, you'll be offered diagnostic testing to properly diagnose the condition. Diagnostic testing can be invasive and carries a small risk of complications.

    It’s your decision whether you take any screening or diagnostic tests.

    Antenatal care is the check-ups and tests you'll need during your pregnancy. It's important to attend antenatal appointments even if you’re feeling well, so that:

    • your medical care team can monitor the health of you and your baby
    • potential risks can be identified, prevented or reduced
    • you can ask any questions you have about your pregnancy or the birth

    The NSW Health Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Service provides culturally safe antenatal and postnatal care by a midwife and Aboriginal health worker. You can access this service while you're pregnant and after your baby is born.

    What Medicare covers

    Medicare can cover all or part of the health care costs of having a baby, including:

    • your doctor or GP fees
    • ultrasounds and blood tests
    • midwife and obstetric fees
    • public hospital or birth centre fees

    Choosing a public or private hospital

    If you choose to give birth as a public patient, Medicare will cover the cost of:

    • your public hospital or birth centre stay
    • midwife and obstetric fees
    • some medical expenses like ultrasounds

    If you have private health insurance, you can choose:

    • a private hospital
    • a private room in a public hospital
    • your obstetrician, in most cases

    If you decide to give birth as a private patient, there are usually out of pocket expenses that insurance won’t cover. Talk to your private health insurer to find out how much your policy will cover.


    Keeping your vaccinations up to date can help protect you and your baby against illnesses that are easily spread, including:

    • the flu
    • whooping cough

    There are some vaccinations that you should avoid during pregnancy, including rubella and chickenpox.

    Taking medications during your pregnancy

    Many medications are safe to take while pregnant. However, some may affect your baby’s growth and development.

    During your pregnancy, it’s important to talk to your doctor:

    • before you stop taking any prescription medication
    • about any medication you were taking when you became pregnant
    • about any medication you plan to take while pregnant

    You can call Mothersafe on 1800 647 848 to talk about any concerns you have about your baby’s exposure to medications and drugs during pregnancy.

    Health complications during pregnancy

    Some women develop complications during pregnancy. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition. Complications can include:


    If you're pregnant and experiencing family or domestic violence

    Family or domestic violence can start or increase during pregnancy, including:

    • verbal abuse
    • physical abuse
    • sexual abuse
    • financial abuse
    • controlling behaviour

    Call the Domestic Violence helpline on 1800 656 463 for free telephone crisis counselling and referral services. You can also visit the Domestic Violence NSW website for more information.

    Learn more about the emergency accommodation options available if you need to leave your home.

    You can also find more resources and support services in Section 8: Getting parenting, emotional and legal support.


    If you did not plan to get pregnant

    Not everybody plans to get pregnant.

    If you’re pregnant and not sure what to do, it’s important to know your options and where to get help.

    You can call the NSW Pregnancy Options Helpline on 1800 131 231 to speak to a health professional. They offer 24-hour free, confidential and unbiased information on your pregnancy options.

    If you're considering adoption or foster care for your child, you can find out more at the Department of Communities and Justice, or call on 02 9716 3003.


    When you're in labour

    The amount of time it takes to give birth will be different for each pregnancy.

    It may hard to tell if labour has started. If you’re unsure, contact your doctor or midwife.

    When labour does not go to plan

    Not all births go as planned. Complications during labour can include:

    • slow progress of labour
    • premature labour
    • if the baby’s in an unusual position
    • concern about the baby’s condition
    If your baby is premature

    Premature babies may not be fully developed and can need help breathing, feeding and keeping warm.

    If your baby is likely to be delivered early, you may be admitted or transferred to a hospital that has special facilities for premature babies known as a neonatal unit.

    Common reasons that babies are born prematurely include when you:

    • are having more than one baby
    • have a medical condition such as pre-eclampsia or diabetes
    • have a history of premature birth
    If your baby is overdue

    Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks. Most women will go into labour within a week before or after this date. 

    If your labour doesn't start naturally, your midwife or doctor may suggest inducing labour. 

    You can learn more about pregnancy beyond 41 weeks at NSW Health. It's available in English and 11 other languages.


    If you had a miscarriage, stillbirth or your baby died after birth

    For a miscarriage before 20 weeks of pregnancy, you can apply for a recognition of early pregnancy loss certificate at the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

    The birth of a baby has to be registered if the loss was after 20 weeks of pregnancy or weighing more than 400 grams at birth.

    The records will show the baby as stillborn, so the death does not need to be registered.

    If a baby died soon after being born, both the birth and the death has to be registered.

    Emotional support

    The loss of a baby at any time during pregnancy or after the birth can be a difficult time for parents and those close to them.

    Everybody grieves differently, and there is no right or wrong way to feel.

    There are organisations that support families affected by miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of a child, including:

    Unpaid parental leave

    You can reduce or cancel any unpaid parental leave if your baby was stillborn or died after birth. This needs to be done in writing. 

    If leave is cancelled after it’s started:

    • you can return to work within 4 weeks of giving notice to your workplace
    • your workplace needs to give at you at least 6 weeks’ notice if they cancel the leave

    You cannot take unpaid parental leave if the leave is cancelled before it starts. In this situation, you may be able to take:

    • paid personal leave
    • unpaid special maternity leave

    Financial support

    In most cases, you’ll still be able to get either Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay if:

    • you’re eligible for the payment
    • your baby was stillborn or died after birth

    You may be able to get a one-off Stillborn Baby Payment if:

    • your baby was stillborn
    • you’re not getting Parental Leave Pay for that baby

    After your baby is born

    After having a baby, you’ll need to:

    • complete paperwork to register the birth of your baby
    • enrol them in Medicare
    • finalise or apply for any income support payments, if eligible

    Most new parents will also want to:

    • keep track of their baby's health checks and vaccinations
    • be aware of the signs of postpartum depression and get support, if needed
    • find information on caring for their baby

    Post birth recovery

    Physical recovery after birth takes time. It can take even longer to recover if you’ve had a caesarean.

    It’s important to:

    • get lots of rest
    • avoid heavy lifting
    • have a 6-week check-up
    • strengthen your pelvic floor
    • talk to your doctor before restarting an exercise program

    The NSW Get Healthy Service on 1300 806 258 offers free telephone health coaching to help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals after pregnancy.

    As well as the physical, there can be other changes after you’ve had a baby. This can include:

    • changes to you and your partner’s relationship
    • changes to your body image
    • changes to your lifestyle
    • loss of identity

    If you have postpartum depression

    It’s common to go through a period of adjustment after having a baby. Your hormones are changing, and you may feel more emotional and anxious than normal.

    This is known as the baby blues. For most people, this is temporary.

    If the baby blues lasts longer than 2 weeks, it can be a sign of postpartum depression. It can affect either parent. 

    Postpartum depression can be treated in different ways, including:

    • counselling
    • psychotherapy
    • group treatment
    • support strategies
    • medications

    Pregnancy support counselling is available from eligible GPs and other health professionals on referral from a GP.

    You can claim Medicare rebates for up to 3 counselling services if you've been pregnant in the last 12 months.

    New parents with postpartum depression can also get help and support at:


      Completing paperwork

      Once your baby is born, you’ll have to complete some paperwork, including:

      • registering their birth
      • enrolling them in Medicare
      • applying for family income support payments or finalising a pre-birth claim, if eligible

      You may also want to:

      • apply for a birth certificate
      • make or update your will

      Register your baby’s birth and get a birth certificate

      If you had your baby in hospital, you’ll be given a form to register the birth. You can also register the birth online.

      Registering the birth:

      • makes your baby’s name legal
      • allows you to apply for a birth certificate

      You won’t automatically get a birth certificate when you register the birth of your baby. You’ll have to buy one. You can apply for a birth certificate once the registration is complete.

      You’ll need a birth certificate to:

      • access Medicare
      • apply for certain government benefits
      • enrol in early childhood education and care

      Finalise a pre-birth claim or make a family payment claim

      You’ll need to provide proof of your baby’s birth to:

      • finalise any family income support payment claims made before the birth of your baby, or
      • to make a new claim

      You can do this by filling out the newborn child declaration that's included in the parent pack you get from your hospital or midwife.

      Completing the newborn child declaration form will also:

      • enrol your baby in Medicare and the Medicare Safety Net
      • register your baby for a My Health Record
      • enrol your baby into the Australian Immunisation Register

      Enrol your baby in Medicare

      If you're applying for an income support payment or have completed a pre-claim form, your baby will be enrolled in Medicare as part of that process. 

      If not, you'll have to provide proof of birth to enrol your baby in Medicare. 

      You can do this by completing the newborn child declaration form you received in the parent pack from the hospital or midwife. This will also:

      • enrol your baby in the Medicare Safety Net
      • register your baby for a My Health Record
      • enrol your baby into the Australian Immunisation Register

      If you have private health insurance

      If you have private health insurance, contact your health insurance company to add your baby to your policy.

      If you don’t and you earn above the family income threshold, you may be charged the Medicare Levy Surcharge at tax time.

      If you're a visa holder or visa applicant

      If you're a visa holder or visa applicant, let the Department of Home Affairs know that you've had a baby.

      They'll confirm whether your baby needs a visa of if they're an Australian citizen.

      Make a will

      It’s common to think about the future when you have a baby. This can include:

      • making or updating your will
      • electing a legal guardian for your child if anything should happen to you

      Getting health and development checks

      All parents who live in NSW will get the baby bundle. This is a bag filled with baby products and information to support the health, development and wellbeing of your baby.

      You’ll receive the baby bundle when you’re discharged from hospital. If your baby was not born in a hospital, you can request a baby bundle when you register their birth.

      Child health record book

      In NSW, the free personal health record book you get when your baby is born is known as the blue book. It’s also available online in English and 18 other languages.

      This is your child’s main health record from when they are born until they start school. You should take the blue book with you to any health checks or medical appointments.

      Health checks

        It’s important for your child to attend regular health checks. This can be done by your doctor or a child and family health nurse.

        In the first year, your baby’s health and development is usually checked at:

        • birth
        • 1 to 4 weeks
        • 6 to 8 weeks
        • 6 months
        • 12 months

        Child and family health centres

        Child and family health centres offer parents and carers in NSW free access to:

        • health, development and wellbeing checks for their child
        • home visits as part of the Universal Health Home Visiting program, and
        • support, education and information on all topics related to parenting

        Building Strong Foundations for Aboriginal children, families and communities

        The Building Strong Foundations service is provided by teams of Aboriginal health workers and child and family health nurses to:

        • provide culturally safe child and family health services, and
        • support the health, growth and development of Aboriginal children from birth to school entry age

        Your baby's development

        Development refers to how your child:

        • grows physically
        • develops emotionally
        • learns to think
        • learns to communicate, and
        • learns to socialise

        Every child develops at their own rate. Not every child will reach a development milestone at the same age.

        However, it’s important to be aware of key milestones and keep track of your own child’s development. There are many websites and apps to help you do this, including:

        • Learn the Signs Act Early – checklist of what most children can do by age group and the early signs that may indicate your child’s development is not on track. These tools are available in the blue book and should be completed before each health check
        • Bright Tomorrows – helps with the development of key life skills during everyday activities
        • Deadly Tots – information and resources for Aboriginal families to help their child learn and grow
        • Raising Children Network – information and resources to support your baby’s development from 0 to 3 months


        In your baby's first year, the NSW Immunisation Schedule recommends a range of vaccinations to protect your child from serious preventable diseases at:

        • birth
        • 2 months
        • 4 months
        • 6 months
        • 12 years

        You can get vaccinations at:

        • your local doctor
        • Aboriginal Medical Services
        • some local councils, and
        • some community health centres

        If your baby gets behind on their vaccinations

        If your baby is not up to date on their vaccinations, talk to your doctor about developing a catch-up schedule so they can be protected as soon as possible.

        While behind on their vaccinations, the following income support payments may be affected:

        • full rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A
        • Child Care Subsidy, and
        • Additional Child Care Subsidy

        Children can only be enrolled in an early childhood education and care service if they:

        • are up to date with their vaccinations
        • have a medical reason not to be up to date, or
        • are on a catch-up schedule

        Feeding your baby

        When feeding your baby, you have the choice of:

        • breastfeeding
        • bottle feeding
        • a combination of both


        Breastfeeding has many benefits, as it:

        • helps you bond with your baby
        • has all the nutrients your baby needs for their growth and development
        • helps protect your baby from infections and disease

        Breastfeeding is not always easy. Common issues you may experience include:

        • breast refusal or biting
        • sore nipples
        • blocked milk ducts and mastitis
        • over or under supply of milk

        Bottle feeding

        You can bottle feed your baby with:

        • expressed breastmilk
        • baby infant formula

        Baby infant formula is the only safe alternative to breastmilk. It has all the nutrients your baby needs for healthy growth and development.

        When using baby bottles, it’s important to know how to:

        • clean and sterilise bottle feeding equipment
        • safely prepare, store and warm bottles

        Get support

        You can get breastfeeding information and support from:

        It is normal for those unable to breastfeed to feel regret and a sense of loss. In this situation, it can help to talk to:

        • your partner, family or a close friend
        • a counsellor
        • the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline on 1800 686 268 for 24-hour support
        • PANDA on 1300 726 306 for emotional and mental health support

        Getting your baby to sleep

        Most babies need help learning how to go to sleep. This is called settling. It can help to try different techniques to learn what works best for you and your baby.

        You baby’s sleep routine will change as they reach different stages of development and can be affected by:

        • growth spurts
        • teething
        • sickness

        If your baby isn’t settling, you can get information and support at:

        Safe sleeping practices

        Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) is a term used to describe when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly.

        Most unexpected deaths happen at night while sleeping. This is usually from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleep accidents.

        You can reduce the risk of SUDI by removing known risk factors and creating a safe sleeping environment. This includes:

        • putting your baby to sleep in a cot
        • placing your baby on their back to sleep
        • avoiding the use of soft toys, pillows, blankets and cot bumpers
        • using a mattress that fits well in the cot so there are no gaps
        • wrapping or swaddling your baby
        • not letting your baby get too hot or cold

        Getting around with a baby

        If you’re travelling with your baby in a car, you must by law use a correctly fitted and properly fastened child restraint that meets Australian and New Zealand safety standards.

        Babies under 6 months need to use a rearward facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness.

        You can find information about children and car and road safety at Kidsafe.

        It’s free to travel on public transport with:

        • children aged 3 years and under
        • a pram or stroller

        It can help to check before you travel to see which stations, stops and wharfs:

        • are pram accessible
        • have baby changing facilities

        Getting financial support

        If eligible, you can get help with the cost of having and raising a baby, including:

        • financial help to lower the cost of living
        • lower health care and medicine
        • help with the cost of early childhood education and care
        • help to pay the rent

        Income support payments

        There are different types of income support payments available to help parents and non parent carers with the cost of raising a baby.

        Your eligibility for each will depend on your situation. Types of payments include:


        Health care costs

        If you or your family need to see a doctor or have tests regularly, you can end up paying a lot in medical expenses. There are several options for lowering those costs.

        Medicare Safety Nets

        Medicare Safety Nets is a threshold amount for out of pocket medical expenses.

        Once the threshold is reached, you automatically get higher Medicare benefits back for the cost of certain services.

        You can register as a family for Medicare Safety Nets to combine your costs. This means you’re more likely to reach the threshold sooner.

        Health care cards and concession cards

        You may be able to get a health care card or concession card to help lower the cost of health services and medicine.

        Your eligibility will depend on your personal situation and if you get an income support payment.

        Types of health care and concession cards include:


        Early childhood education and care costs

        You may be able to get financial help from the government with the cost of approved early childhood education and care.

        Child Care Subsidy

        The Child Care Subsidy is paid directly to your early childhood education and care service to reduce the fees you pay.

        The amount depends on:

        • how much work or recognised activity you and your partner do each fortnight
        • your combined family income, and
        • the fees you pay

        Absence days and the Child Care Subsidy

        You can still get paid the Child Care Subsidy if you’re charged for a day when your child does not attend. These are called absence days.

        You can claim up to 42 absence days in a financial year. They can be for any reason and you do not need documentation. In some situations, you may be able to claim more than 42 days.

        Your enrolment will be cancelled and you’ll stop getting the Child Care Subsidy if:

        • your child does not attend for 14 weeks in a row, or
        • your service reports that your child is no longer attending

        Additional Child Care Subsidy

        The Additional Child Care Subsidy is an extra payment that helps some families with the cost of approved early childhood education and care.

        To get this payment, you must be eligible for and claiming the Child Care Subsidy.

        You will also need to meet extra criteria, depending on the type of Additional Child Care Subsidy you apply for:

        • grandparent
        • transition to work
        • temporary financial hardship, or
        • child wellbeing

        Living expenses

        There are allowances, discounts and rebates for those eligible families that help lower the cost of living, including:

        • Telephone Allowance – a payment made every 3 months to help with phone and internet costs if you’re getting the Parenting Payment and meet certain criteria
        • Energy Supplement – an extra payment to help with the cost of energy bills if you get the Parenting Payment or Carer Payment. You’ll get this payment automatically if you’re eligible, so you don’t have to apply
        • COVID-19 related payments and support – if you’re experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19

        You can also use the Savings Finder at Service NSW to check if you’re eligible for other types of rebates from the NSW Government.


        Housing assistance

        You can get Rent Assistance if you pay rent and get certain income support payments, including:

        • Parenting Payment
        • more than the base rate of the Family Tax Benefit Part A, or
        • Carer Payment

        You don’t need to submit a claim. You’ll automatically be assessed when you claim an eligible payment.

        There are also several options for those on a low income who are looking to rent. This includes:

        • social housing
        • affordable housing, and
        • low cost and culturally appropriate housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

        There can be long waiting lists, so it's important to apply as early as possible.


        Working during and after pregnancy

        If you’re working while pregnant or after you’ve had your baby, there are many things to consider.

        It’s important to:

        • understand your rights and responsibilities in the workplace
        • know the types of leave you can take during and after pregnancy
        • plan your return to work, if you’ve taken leave
        • be aware of your flexible work arrangement options
        • know where to get information and support if you have a workplace dispute

        Working when you're pregnant

        You don’t have to legally tell your workplace by a certain time if you’re pregnant, but think about letting them know earlier if you:

        • have morning sickness and are unwell
        • need adjustments at work to continue doing your job
        • need time off for medical appointments

        Your rights at work

        It's against the law for a workplace to discriminate against you if you’re pregnant, which means they cannot:

        • reduce your hours
        • fire you
        • overlook you for a promotion
        • ask if you’re pregnant or planning on getting pregnant during a job interview

        Your safety at work

        Your workplace is responsible for protecting you from any risks at work while pregnant.

        Potential risks can include:

        • heavy lifting
        • working with chemicals
        • shift work
        • too much travel

        A risk assessment may need to be done:

        • at different stages of your pregnancy, or
        • if your work duties change

        If it’s not safe for you to do your normal job while pregnant, your workplace has to offer you a safe job at the same pay rate and number of working hours as your normal job. 

        If there’s no safe job available, you may be able to take either paid or unpaid no safe job leave.

        Types of leave

        You can take your normal leave entitlements during pregnancy. You may also be able to get other types of leave before and after your baby is born, including:

        • no safe job leave – paid or unpaid leave if it’s not safe to do your normal job while pregnant and there’s no alternative safe job available
        • special maternity leave – unpaid leave if you’re eligible for unpaid parental leave and you have a pregnancy related illness
        • unpaid parental leave – unpaid leave up to 6 weeks before your expected due date

        If you take leave once your baby is born, you may be able to get Parental Leave Pay from the government.

        Learn more about this and other types of income support payments in Section 4: Getting financial support.


        If you're returning to work after having a baby

        If you’ve taken time off to care for your baby, going back to work can be an adjustment for the whole family.

        Finding the right balance between your work commitments and new family responsibilities may take some time.

        Planning your return to work in advance with both your manager and your family can help make it easier. You’ll want to think about:

        Understanding your rights and responsibilities

        It’s against the law for your workplace to treat you less favourably because of your family responsibilities.

        If you’ve been on unpaid parental leave, you have a right to return to the job you had before going on leave, even if someone is working in that job as a replacement.

        If there were changes made to your job because of your pregnancy before you went on leave, you have the right to return to the job you had before the change. This includes if:

        • your hours were reduced while you were pregnant, or
        • your job or work duties changed where your normal job was not safe for you to do while pregnant

        If you’re on a fixed term contract, your work doesn’t have to extend the fixed term because you’ve taken leave. If your fixed term ends while you’re on parental leave, you may not be able to return to that job.

        If you're breastfeeding, you have a legal right to breastfeed or express and store breast milk at work. It may be discrimination if your work doesn’t provide suitable facilities for you to do this.

        If your job has changed or no longer exists, your work needs to offer you a job that’s similar in pay and status. If this isn’t possible, you may be entitled to a redundancy. Learn more about your rights if you lose your job.

        Flexible work arrangements

        You have the right to request a flexible work arrangement if you’re a parent or are responsible for the care of a child. This can include:

        • working part time
        • working from home
        • job sharing, or
        • changing start and finish times

        A request for flexible work arrangements needs to be made in writing.

        Your workplace will approve or refuse your request in writing within 21 days. A request for flexible work arrangements can only be refused on reasonable business grounds. Any reasons for refusing a request must be included in the response.

        If you disagree with the decision, you can get help with the dispute at the Fair Work Commission if your workplace has agreed to it. This agreement is usually found in an employment contract, enterprise agreement or other written agreement.

        It’s against the law for your workplace to take any adverse action against you for requesting a flexible work arrangement or for contacting the Fair Work Commission.

        If you're getting Parental Leave Pay

        You have the option of taking Flexible Paid Parental Leave if your baby was born on or after 1 July 2020. If this applies, you can choose to:

        • take the full 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay in one block, or
        • split the leave into an initial 12 week block and then take 30 Flexible Paid Parental Leave days (equal to 6 weeks) if you’ve arranged to return to work part time

        You'll need to notify Services Australia if you’re getting Parental Leave Pay and go back to work before the end of your paid parental leave period.

        You’re considered to have returned to work if you do either paid work or more than 10 keeping in touch days.

        A keeping in touch day is a day or part day that you go into work while on parental leave to stay connected to your workplace or help you transition back to work. This includes attending:

        • planning days
        • training sessions, or
        • conferences

        If you return to work early, you can transfer the unused part of your Parental Leave Pay to another person.

          Personal leave

          You can take time off work if:

          • you're sick or injured
          • you're caring for your child or other family member who is sick or injured, or
          • you have a family emergency

          This is often called sick leave or carer’s leave.

          Full and part time workers can take paid personal leave. The amount of paid leave is based on the number of hours ordinarily worked in a year.

          All workers can take 2 days of unpaid personal leave on each occasion.

          Upskilling, retraining and changing jobs

          After returning to work after having time off, it’s common to want to learn new skills to help you in your current job. 

          Or you may not return to your job after having time off if:

          • your job changed while you were on leave and it no longer exists
          • your current job no longer suits your new family situation, or
          • you want to change jobs or careers

          There are courses and training programs available if you want to upskill or retrain. Some are free or offer discounts on course fees.


          Getting support at work

          You may need additional support when pregnant or returning to work after taking leave to have your baby.

          Most workplaces offer resources to help. This can include:

          • talking to your manager or human resources department
          • accessing online resources on your company’s intranet
          • checking if your workplace offers an employee assistance program with a professional and confidential counselling service

          If you have a workplace dispute

          If you have an issue at work that you cannot resolve directly with your employer, you can find information and support at:

          • your union, if you’re a union member
          • the Fair Work Ombudsman for information on your workplace rights and responsibilities, or to get help resolving a workplace issue
          • the Fair Work Commission – for help resolving workplace disputes through mediation, conciliation or arbitration
          • LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 – for a free government telephone service that provides legal information on topics including job-related issues

          Finding early childhood education and care

          Early childhood education and care is any service that cares for children before primary school. This includes day care and child care.

          Choosing an early childhood education and care service is an important decision. It can help your child:

          • with language development and vocabulary
          • develop fine motor and sensory skills
          • learn social skills and make friends
          • create a lifelong passion for learning, and
          • prepare them for primary school

          Understanding your options

          Understanding the range of early childhood education and care options can help you choose the right service for your family.

          Common types of services include:

          • child care centre or long day care – all day or part day care
          • family day care – provided in a carer's home
          • occasional care – casual or regular care for short periods of time
          • in home care – in your home by an approved carer when standard child care is not suitable


          Playgroups are regular social gatherings where:

          • children can build social skills and learn through play, and
          • parents and carers can meet and share their experience

          Finding and selecting a service

          The type of early childhood education and care service you choose will depend on:

          • location
          • when you need it
          • availability
          • your budget
          • your child’s individual needs, and
          • the quality of the service

          Quality of care

          The National Quality Standard assesses all early childhood education and child care services against 7 quality areas:

          1. Educational program and practice – opportunities to play and learn
          2. Children’s health and safety – protects children from harm, injury and illness    
          3. Physical environment – a safe and suitable physical environment
          4. Staffing arrangements – enough qualified and experienced staff
          5. Relationships with children – welcomes and supports children
          6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities – respects beliefs of families and fosters local community involvement
          7. Governance and leadership – well managed environment

          Visiting your top choices

          Visiting an early childhood education and care service will help you decide if it's right for your child. You’ll be able to see:

          • how staff interact with the children
          • how the children interact with each other
          • the types of activities, and
          • the playing, eating and sleeping spaces

          Most services let you drop in at any time but consider making an appointment in advance. That way you know a staff member will be available to show you around and answer your questions.

          You can download a visit checklist at CareforKids.com.au.

          Fees and costs

          The cost of early childhood education and care will depend on:

          • the type of care
          • how many days a week your child attends
          • how many children you have in care, and
          • if you can get financial support

          You’ll need to check with each service if they:

          • charge a fee when your child is away
          • charge a full day fee if your child only attends for a part day
          • charge fees on public holidays, and
          • supply things like meals and nappies

          You may be able to get financial help with the cost of early childhood education and care. You can learn more about the Child Care Subsidy and the Additional Child Care Subsidy in Section 4: Getting financial support.


          Enrolling in a service

          Depending on the service, you may need to:

          • put your child's name on a wait list
          • pay a wait list fee
          • pay a bond once your application has been accepted

          Your child will also need to meet immunisation requirements.

          Wait lists

          You'll have to put your child’s name on a wait list if there are no spots available. It can help to enrol all your children at the same service, as most will give priority to siblings.

          You can put your child on the wait list at more than one service at once. Consider doing this if your child needs be enrolled by a particular age or time.

          Most early childhood education and care services charge a wait list fee. The exact amount will vary between services.

          If you have to pay a wait list fee, make sure you know the terms and conditions, including if the fee is refundable if:

          • you don’t get a place, or
          • you find a place somewhere else

          The enrolment process

          How you apply for and enrol your child in an early childhood education and care service will depend on:

          • the type of care you choose
          • the individual service

          Generally, you’ll usually have to:

          • complete an enrolment form
          • provide documents such as birth certificate, immunisation records and proof of address
          • attend an enrolment meeting
          • attend orientation

          Once you’ve enrolled your child, you’ll have to confirm the enrolment through your Centrelink account if you’re claiming the Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy.

          Contact the early childhood education and care service directly to find out more about their specific enrolment process.

          Vaccination requirements

          Children can only be enrolled in early childhood education and care if they:

          • are up to date with their vaccinations
          • have a medical reason not to be up to date, or
          • are on a catch-up schedule

          If you’re unsure if your child is up to date with their vaccinations, you can request an immunisation history statement from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). Your child will be on the AIR if they’re enrolled in Medicare.


          If you have a child with disability

          As well as the usual parenting challenges, parents and carers who have a child with disability or additional needs will also want to consider:

          • how to get a diagnosis for their child
          • if they can get support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
          • what type of early childhood education and care service will best suit their child's needs
          • the financial and other types of support available

          Getting a diagnosis

          A disability diagnosis can take time. Get help as early as possible if you have concerns about your child’s development.

          An early diagnosis can lead to better outcomes for your child. It also means you can start to get the support and services your child needs.

          It’s important to:

          • take your child for their regular health checks, so that delays in their development or learning can be detected early
          • keep track of your child’s development and help them learn key life skills – see ‘Getting health and development checks’ under Section 3: After your baby is born for development tools and resources
          • talk to your local doctor or child and family health nurse if you have any concerns about your child
          • get a second medical opinion if necessary

          Getting NDIS support

          Your child is eligible for the NDIS early childhood early intervention approach if they have a:

          • significant and permanent disability
          • developmental delay

          You can contact the NDIS directly, or you might be referred by your:

          • doctor
          • child and family health nurse
          • paediatrician
          • preschool or child care centre

          You’ll meet with an NDIS early childhood partner who can:

          • help you identify what support your child needs
          • refer you to services and support in your area
          • help you find short term early interventions, such as speech therapy

          If your child needs longer term support, you can request NDIS access.


          Your early childhood education and care options

          You may be able to get In Home Care if you have a child with disability. You also have the option of enrolling your child in any early childhood education and care service.

          In Home Care

          The In Home Care program offers flexible care provided in your home by a government approved carer.

          You may be eligible if your child has a chronic illness or disability and standard early childhood education and care services are not available or suitable.

          The cost of In Home Care will depend on:

          • who's providing the service
          • how often you need it
          • if you can claim child care benefits

          You may still be able to get In Home Care if your child already gets support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NSW In Home Care Support Agency will assess if your child is eligible and match you with a service provider. 

          You can call them on 1800 442 273 or email at info@ihcsupportagency.org.au to get assessed.

          Early childhood education and care services

          Children with disability can enrol at any early childhood education and child care service.

          When choosing a service, think about whether you want a generalised care or specialised education program.

          It’s important to be clear about your child’s needs and abilities with the service as early as possible. When making your choice, think about:

          • your child’s individual needs and interests
          • if any of the staff are specially trained
          • if staff seem comfortable looking after your child
          • if other children with disability or additional needs attend the service

          Getting financial and other types of support

          Depending on your situation, there are several payments you may be able to get if you care for a baby with disability or a medical condition. This includes:

          • Carer Adjustment Payment – a lump sum payment if you care for a child with a severe illness, medical condition or major disability 
          • Carer Payment – an ongoing payment for the main carer of a child with severe disability or illness
          • Carer Allowance – an ongoing payment if you give additional daily care to a child with disability or a serious illness
          • Child Disability Assistance Payment – an automatic yearly payment if you get the Carer Allowance for a period that includes 1 July
          • Essential Medical Equipment Payment – a yearly payment to help with energy costs to run medical equipment or medically required heating or cooling

          You may also be eligible for other types of financial support. See Section 4: Getting financial support for more details.

          Other types of support

          If you're raising a child with disability, your doctor or midwife can put you in touch with a support group in your local area.

          You can also find information and support at:  


          Getting parenting, emotional and legal support

          There are resources and support services available to help expectant and new parents cope with the practical and emotional challenges of having and raising a baby. 


          Parenting support

          There are many government and non-government organisations that can offer parenting information, advice and support. 

          Health, development and wellbeing

          Parenting and relationships

          • Parent Line NSW on 1300 1300 52 for confidential advice and support about parenting and family issues from a qualified counsellor
          • Raising Children Network for information and resources on pregnancy, newborns and raising children
          • Resourcing Parents for information on parenting, children’s development and popular parenting courses and programs
          • Deadly Tots for information, resources, parenting courses and community events for Aboriginal families
          • Focus on New Fathers is a free, text message service from NSW Health for expectant and new dads in certain areas of NSW. It offers practical tips, information and resources to help connect dads with their baby and support their partner
          • Kidsafe for information on how to make your home safer for children

          For migrant and refugee families

          • Community Hubs connects migrant and refugee families to their wider communities, as well as to organisations that provide health, education, and settlement support
          • Settlement Services International offers support to migrant and refugee families, including help for children at school, with finding employment for parents and community support services
          • NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service provides multilingual health information to people from multicultural backgrounds

          For single parents and parents who are separating

          For non parent carers


          Mental health and emotional support

          It’s common to feel a range of different emotions when pregnant or dealing with the challenges of having a baby, including:

          It’s important to get support if those feelings don’t go away on their own.

          You can find emotional health and wellbeing resources for expectant and new parents at Beyond Blue. You can also call their helpline on 1300 22 46 36 for 24-hour support.

          You can get more information and support at:

          Relationship support

          Having a baby can put pressure on your relationship with your partner and family. You can find information, resources and services at:

          Support if you’ve lost a baby

          You can find information, advice and support for families affected by miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of a child at:


          Parent groups and playgroups

          Joining a group is a useful way to build a support network of people who are going through a similar experience. There are different types of groups, including:

          • mothers’ groups
          • dads’ groups
          • playgroups

          These can be face to face or online groups. You can find a local group through your:

          Mothers’ groups

          You’ll usually be assigned a mothers’ group by your hospital, antenatal class or child and family health clinic. 

          If you’re not assigned a group, you can find out about local support groups through the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

          Dads’ groups

          It’s important that new dads get support and the chance to meet other new dads. 

          You can find information on dads’ groups at your hospital, child and family health clinic, community centre or online.

          The not-for-profit organisation Dads Group host over 70 dads’ groups Australia-wide. If there isn’t already a group in your local area, they can help you start one.

          Due to COVID-19, they are currently running online groups.


          Playgroups are regular social gatherings where:

          • children can build social skills and learn through play, and
          • parents and carers can meet and share their experiences

          Parenting programs and courses

          A short course or program can help new parents build parenting skills, strengthen family relationships and increase confidence.

          Depending on your situation, programs include:

          There are also programs you may be able to access with an eligibility assessment or referral from a GP or child and family health nurse, including:

          • Sustaining NSW Families – a 2-year health home visiting program starting in pregnancy that works with eligible families to strengthen parenting skills and increase child health and wellbeing
          • Tresillian Residential Stay – inpatient residential stay for families with parenting challenges, including sleep and settling, diet and nutrition, toddler behaviour and your own emotional health and wellbeing. During COVID-19, you can also self refer by calling the Tresillian Parent’s Help Line on 1300 272 736
          • Karitane – inpatient residential stay for families with children aged 0 to 4 years experiencing parenting challenges, including sleep and settling, toddler behaviour, anxiety and postnatal depression. During COVID-19, you can also self refer online or attend a virtual appointment
          • Family Connect and Support – helps connect you and your family to the right services and support at the right time for up to 16 weeks
          • Australian Red Cross Young Parents Program (NSW) – residential program for young parents aged 13 to 25 to help them and their children build independence and resilience

          Support for those experiencing family or domestic violence

          You can find information, counselling, referrals and support services if you're experiencing family or domestic violence.

          There's also information on where you can get help with finding somewhere safe to stay.

          Counselling, referrals and support services

          Help finding somewhere to stay


          Legal support

          You can find legal information, advocacy services and referrals at:

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