Welcome to maternity services at Colac Area Health

The maternity unit sits within a uniquely integrated area health service and provides quality maternity care to the local community and surrounding districts. The maternity unit staff are committed to family centred, individualised maternity care, which encourages the involvement of family members in the birth and care of a new baby. The service offers women a comprehensive range of pregnancy, birthing and postnatal support services. Services are designed to ensure families are well prepared for and informed during pregnancy and have adequate access to support services upon leaving hospital. Flexibility and choice are important aspects of maternity care and the midwives encourage all families to choose the birthing and postnatal options that best suit their individual needs and circumstances.

Should you or your baby be considered at high risk for complications during pregnancy, labour and birth and the resources required to provide immediate and ongoing safe care is not available locally, consultation and/or referral to higher level services with the capacity to manage possible complications maybe necessary for some women and their unborn babies or newborn infants. In general, outcomes for babies who may need higher care in the newborn period improves if the baby’s mother can be safely transported during pregnancy or early labour  to a centre that can provide the required obstetric care for the woman and after-birth support for her newborn infant. 

Kate with baby Madison
Kate with baby Madison

All women birthing at Colac Area Health Maternity Services are encouraged to have ambulance cover. 

Colac Area Health is a teaching hospital and you may be asked to have midwifery or medical students observe or take part in your care. Whilst your informed consent is required for any student participation, you have the right to refuse or negotiate what aspects of your care you share with students. We appreciate your assistance in allowing students to have this important and valuable supervised learning opportunity, however, should you decide not to have student participation your care will not be affected in any way. 

The maternity unit is a 4 bed unit, specifically designed to provide privacy and comfort for every woman, her family and significant others across the continuum of the childbearing journey.  The maternity unit consists of 2 birthing suites and two single postnatal rooms and is staffed 24 hours a day by a supportive and highly dedicated team of midwives and visiting medical officers (GP Obstetricians and anaesthetists). The maternity services team leader (clinical midwife consultant) and a specialist obstetrician are also available for wider consultation and advice to all maternity services staff as required.

The same maternity unit staff, midwifery and medical, work across all areas of maternity care, offering the opportunity for some continuity of care across the entire birthing and early parenting experience.  

We welcome all women and their families to discuss their options with us and to provide us with your feedback and suggestions for service improvement. Please contact the Maternity Services Team, Monday-Friday 8.30 am-4 pm to discuss your experience and our services, and how we may assist you in planning for your stay with us.

Ph: 5232 5444

Family lounge
Family lounge

Visiting hours

For maternity clients 2-8 pm only

Partners/support persons and other children are welcome to visit anytime.  

Rest period 12.30-2 pm – we ask all visitors to please respect and observe this rest period to provide women with an opportunity to rest and recover.  



Booking In

Women are referred by their General Practitioner or GP Obstetrician following confirmation of their pregnancy, or women may self-refer and make an appointment to see the booking-in midwife. Referral and booking in is preferred by 12-14 weeks of pregnancy ideally (prior to 20 weeks gestation at the latest). Colac Area Health will require pathology results at booking in.

To make an appointment with the booking-in midwife, please contact Acute Ward reception on 5232 5129. Women are also required to attend the admissions office in the Acute Ward of the hospital to complete the admissions paperwork and register details prior to the booking in appointment. It is preferable that this is done at least 24 hours before your actual booking in appointment.

Booking in sessions are held in the Family and Community Services building Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8.30 am-12.30 pm. Booking in sessions with the midwife will take about an hour.

Appointment times may be subject to change and may be rescheduled, however every effort will be made for the appointment to be attended.  

At this booking in visit, information is provided on the services and facilities offered at our maternity unit and referrals to other supports and allied health services such as Youth Health Hub, dietician, dental clinic, smoking cessation clinic, social worker, family violence counsellors (and others) are discussed and offered where appropriate. The midwife will take an initial history and discuss your pregnancy and health concerns, and will liaise with your GP obstetrician about your ongoing pregnancy care needs.

Spending a focused period of time with one of our midwives gives you and your partner the opportunity to discuss matters affecting your pregnancy, birth and transition to parenthood. It is also the ideal time for information sharing about your birth choices, your hospital stay, planning your discharge from hospital and to answer any questions you may have.

Colac Area Health Maternity Services supports and promotes the use of the Victorian Maternity Record (VMR).  The VMR is a government initiative to provide pregnant women with a uniform hand held maternity care record.  The VMR was introduced to engage women in decisions regarding their own care and to improve communication between service providers. If your GP obstetrician has not commenced a VMR for you, your midwife will start a VMR at your booking in visit. Women are advised to get their GP to complete their VMR at each pregnancy care visit they attend.   

Outpatient Service

Colac Area Health has an outpatient service for women of 20 weeks gestation or greater. The midwives work in collaboration with the woman’s GP Obstetrician or the ‘On-Call’ GP Obstetrician after hours. Women can self-refer for maternity outpatient appointments, or are referred directly by their GP Obstetrician by contacting the maternity unit on 5232 5117.  

The Ante-Natal Midwives Clinic offers midwifery appointments routinely:  

  • Booking in at 12-14 weeks gestation ideally (must be prior to 20 weeks)
  • At 24 weeks gestation
  • At 32-34 weeks gestation
  • At 37 weeks gestation

Women who are greater than 20 weeks gestation are welcome to contact the Maternity Unit/Midwives directly with any pregnancy related concerns. Alternatively, the GP may refer women to the Maternity Unit for Midwife assessment and CTG if clinically indicated and the Midwives will consult with the GP Obstetricians as required.  

For all urgent maternity outpatient enquiries please phone the maternity unit 24 hours a day and speak directly with a midwife: phone 5232 5117 – no appointment necessary for urgent maternity outpatient enquires.  

Adolescent Women’s Community Health Nurse/Midwife

Childbirth and Parenting Education Classes – six week program 

Birthing Suite

Upon arrival at the maternity unit, women are admitted directly to the maternity unit and assessed by the midwifery staff in collaboration with the woman’s GP obstetrician or the ‘On-Call’ GP Obstetrician after hours.     There are two birthing suites, each with en-suite facilities. One of the birthing suites has a large bath directly off the birthing suite for those women who wish to use deep water immersion for working with pain in labour or who choose to have a water birth. A second bathroom equipped with a large bath is also available within the unit.     A comfortably furnished lounge and waiting area, compete with kitchenette, is located within the maternity unit for family members and friends.    The Maternity Service also has around-the-clock access to the hospital’s operating theatres for women requiring an emergency or planned caesarean section. Our anaesthetic services are also available as a 24-hour service. The maternity service also has access to a range of diagnostic services including; pathology, radiology/medical imaging (business hours and after hours on-call availability only).     Colac Area Health has a Level one neonatal nursery – therefore women birthing at our maternity unit must be at least 36 completed weeks gestation. Babies born prematurely at Colac Area Health maternity unit or who are unwell at birth or who require ongoing support and assistance after birth, will be stabilised and provided with emergency care until they can be transferred to a higher level  neonatal care facility in collaboration with our maternity services staff (midwives and visiting medical officers) and the Perinatal Emergency Transfer Service (PERS) http://www.pers.org.au     

Post Natal

The postnatal ward is located within the maternity unit (2 beds) and provides comfortable, single room accommodation and ensuite facilities. Should demand require further postnatal beds, single room accommodation is available within the acute ward in close proximity to the maternity unit. The postnatal rooms are staffed by the maternity unit team with 24 hour availability of qualified midwives and visiting medical staff, and is closely linked with the birthing suite, level one nursery, and midwifery outreach program (domiciliary midwifery), which facilitates the transition to parenthood.    All Midwives are experienced with breastfeeding and will provide support, advice and education. Midwives will refer to a Lactation Consultant if required.  Midwives will provide support after discharge from CAH Maternity with home visits before handing over to Maternal and Child Health Nurses for ongoing support and care. 

Your Stay at Colac Area Health Maternity

During your stay at Colac Area Health Maternity, our dedicated team of midwives will support you in your learning journey as you develop skills in caring for your newborn baby and transition into your new parenting role.    After the birth of your baby, you will be encouraged to ‘room-in’ with your baby 24 hours a day to help promote:    

  • Enhanced bonding
  • Opportunities for learning practical parenting skills
  • The establishment of lactation and breastfeeding
  • Increased confidence
  • Decreased risk of cross-infection

The length of time you spend in hospital following the birth of your baby depends on a number of factors, including the type of birth, your post birth recovery and general health and your baby’s health. If you had a vaginal birth, your stay will be between one and three nights. Women who have had a caesarean birth generally stay between three and four nights.  

It is important to realise that these are average length of stays and if you are requiring extended postnatal care as an inpatient for a medical indication, your length of stay will be determined according to you and your baby’s clinical needs for care, ensuring that you and your baby are ready to go home with the support and assistance you may require.     

Midwifery Outreach Program – ‘MOP’

Extended postnatal care is also available through our midwifery outreach program (MOP) which aims to provide ongoing and individualised care in your own environment post discharge from hospital. MOP visits are negotiated with you according to you and your baby’s needs for care, and will be discussed with you as part of your discharge planning. All women are offered two MOP home visits routinely but may have more if indicated.    Please ensure that an approved infant restraint has been correctly fitted to your car prior to taking your baby home.    Discharge time is 10 am on the day of discharge from hospital – please arrange for your partner/support people to be at the hospital at 9 am so that you are ready for discharge at 10 am.      

Maternity Support Services

Colac Area Health maternity service offers women and their families a comprehensive range of antenatal and postnatal support services. Services are designed to ensure that women and their families are well prepared for and informed during pregnancy and have adequate access to support services upon leaving hospital.  Once discharged from our service and the MOP, women are advised to follow up with their local GP or the maternal and child health nurse in the community for ongoing support and advice as required. Our maternity service has formal consultation and referral pathways with the following support services and community agencies:          

Maternal and Child Health Services (Colac Otway)    

The hospital will notify your local Maternal and Child Health Service following the birth of your baby. The local Maternal and Child Health Nurses (MCHN) endeavour to introduce themselves to you while you are still in hospital or they will usually contact you within a week – 10 days after birth to arrange your first visit with the service. This is a universal service for families with children up to 6 years of age to monitor growth and development of your child and family health and wellbeing.    You can contact your local MCHN before the birth of your baby. Ask your midwife or check with your local Council to locate your nearest centre.    Colac MCHN Centre    49 Queen Street Colac    Ph: (03) 5232 9570     

General Practitioners

You are advised to see your local GP about 6-8 weeks after birth for a postnatal check .This visit is an opportunity to have your baby checked and for you to discuss your physical, emotional and social well being. Your midwife will arrange this follow-up appointment with your designated GP as part of your discharge planning.      

Raphael Centre Colac    

The St John of God Raphael Centre offers specialist counselling, support and information for parents affected by anxiety, depression, stress or difficulties in adjustment to parenthood, during pregnancy or in the two years following the birth of their baby.  This service is available for families in the Colac region, with a counsellor providing consultations in Colac. Please contact your GP for a referral to the Raphael Centre (03) 52217333 or discuss this with your midwife.

Child First Intake  

Child FIRST provides a service to vulnerable children, young people and families by providing a community-based intake service that will prioritise services on the basis of need. Child FIRST is supported in its role by a community based Child Protection worker.


  • Information and advice
  • Initial screening and assessment of Significant Wellbeing
  • Referrals
  • Prioritisation/referral
  • Consultation
  • Short term interventions


Telephone: 5232 5500 Fax: 5232 5190     

Barwon Post Acute Care

The Community Nursing Service provides home-based health care and services. The service includes the Hospital in the Home and Post Acute Care programs. All patients receiving care and support through these programs will need to be assessed as suitable for the program and meet the Hospital in the Home or Post Acute Care Service eligibility criteria. Midwives at CAH will liaise with the BPAC team regarding referral for women and babies with ongoing needs post discharge from hospital.         

Community Development

The maternity unit fosters an involvement with the community and community agencies. These include Bubs in the Hub – young women’s group, Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)


Related Links

Having a Baby in Victoria: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/maternity/    
3 centres Collaboration: http://3centres.com.au/    
National Guidance on Collaborative Maternity Care: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/cp124syn.htm 
Kidsafe Victoria: http://www.kidsafevic.com.au/  
Australian College of Midwives: http://www.midwives.org.au/