About pregnancy, birth and baby care

About 300,000 babies are born each year. The health of mothers – and what they do before, during and after pregnancy – affects their babies at birth and for the rest of their lives. Good support for parents and babies is critical to giving babies the best start.

Pregnancy, birth and baby care in Australia

A mother’s health – including her age, weight and whether she smoked or drank alcohol during pregnancy – affects both the mother and her baby.  

In Australia, in 2020, 291,712 women aged an average of 30.9 years gave birth to 295,796 babies. Of these women: 

Of the babies born in 2020, about: 

  • 8% were born prematurely 
  • almost 7% were low birthweight 
  • 1% were stillborn or died within 28 days of birth. 

A baby’s health at birth can affect health and wellbeing throughout life. Good support during pregnancy, birth and the early months and years of a baby’s life can improve short- and long-term outcomes for mothers and babies.   

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports on the health of mothers and babies each year.  

Our role in pregnancy, birth and baby care

State and territory governments are responsible for providing publicly funded birthing and maternity services, which are free. We provide national direction, and work with state and territory governments to improve pregnancy, birth and baby care and health outcomes.  

This includes through: 

COVID-19 advice for pregnant women and parents 

Read about dealing with COVID-19 during pregnancy, birth and the early years. This includes: 

  • how to have a healthy pregnancy 
  • having your baby in a hospital 
  • bringing your little one home  
  • keeping your kids safe and entertained while self-isolating. 

Support for fathers during pregnancy, birth and early parenthood

Dads play a critical role in their children’s emotional, social, physical and brain development. Having a father who is involved, loving and a good role model makes a huge difference in a child’s life.  

But there can be a lot to navigate and adjust to when becoming a father for the first time.  

It’s important to be informed and seek support when needed. Read more information and advice about fatherhood, including: 

  • dealing with pregnancy, birth and the early years 

  • your legal rights and responsibilities as a dad 

  • where to get support if you feel overwhelmed or depressed.   

Support for perinatal mental health 

Expectant parents can experience emotional changes during pregnancy, including perinatal and postnatal depression and anxiety, which is estimated to affect about: 

Our Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program supports the mental health of parents before and after birth, by funding public hospitals to provide routine screening, support and treatment.  

This complements the work of Primary Health Networks in ensuring tailored local perinatal services are available in every community. 

Find support through:  

Research and data

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: 

Date last updated:

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