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:
- about 1 in 10 smoked during their pregnancy
- about 1 in 4 were overweight and 1 in 5 were obese
- just over 2% reported drinking alcohol in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy (alcohol consumption data excludes New South Wales and South Australia).
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:
the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website, which supports parents from pregnancy to preschool
the Pregnancy, birth and baby hotline, which provides parents with advice from qualified maternal child health nurses about children’s growth, behaviour and development
healthdirect, which provides reliable health information and advice on all aspects of pregnancy and breastfeeding
the Guidelines for physical activity during pregnancy, which provide information and advice for pregnant women about how much physical activity they should do each day
Get Up & Grow resources – in several languages – which help parents and educators ensure children grow up healthy and strong
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:
1 in 5 expectant and new mothers
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:
Read more about:
Research and data
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: