Pregnancy is an exciting time but there is also a lot to consider for the upcoming delivery. Where are you going to have the baby? Is it the best care available? What if complications arise during labour? There is no denying that most pregnant women in South Africa would prefer giving birth in a private hospital. However, this is not always possible. Private hospital care is unaffordable for many but if you have medical aid or the finances available then you need to make the necessary arrangements as early as possible.
Procedure For Maternity Booking
The entire procedure for booking your bed in the maternity ward is quite simple. But time is the key factor. Do not wait until you go into labour to show up at your nearest private hospital expecting to be guaranteed a bed. The hospital may turn you away and you may even have to resort to a government facility at the last minute. If a hospital bed is unavailable and you did not make a booking ahead of time, then the hospital cannot compromise those patients who made plans early.
So when is a good time to start the planning? You gynaecologist will advise you accordingly but you could do it as early as the 16 to 20 week mark.
Speak To Your Doctor
Firstly you need to know your estimated date of delivery (EDD). You should be seeing a private gynaecologist who will be attending to you during the course of the pregnancy and deliver your baby. Your gynaecologist will be able to tell you the estimated date of delivery and clarify as to which private hospitals he/she would be willing to deliver your baby.
Your gynaecologist will provide you with a hospital admission form/card at around the 20 to 24 week mark. You will need this card along with a medical aid authorisation number to book your bed in the maternity ward. The admission form/card may only be used at a specific hospital. Alternatively your gynaecologist may provide you with a letter which could be used at several different hospitals.
Remember that some gynaecologists will only do deliveries in specific hospitals and may not be willing to change this just because you prefer another hospital. In this case you may have to change your gynaecologist which you should do as early as possible in your pregnancy.
Get Medical Aid Authorisation
You need to get your medical aid to authorise the payment of your upcoming delivery. This can be done telephonically at any time but it is best to wait till about 20 weeks once your doctor has a better idea of your estimated date of delivery. The medical aid authorisations department will fill you in on the scheme’s procedures.You will need to provide your medical aid with the following details:
- Your estimated date of delivery
- Type of delivery – normal vaginal birth or Caesarean section (C-section)
- Your gynaecologist’s name and practice number
Once the authorisation number is issued, make sure that you keep it in a safe place at all times.
Booking A Bed
Set a date to visit the hospital and book your bed in the maternity ward. Try not to put it off till its too late. You should do your booking around the 26 week mark so you can be assured of a bed. Furthermore by doing it before the 28 week mark, you can arrange the best time to have the 4D scan if the private hospital offers it for free. It is best to do this scan between 28 to 32 weeks.In order to book your bed, you will need the following documents and details:
- the hospital admission form/card/letter from your gynaecologist
- your identity document (green bar coded ID book)
- your medical aid card
- the authorisation number from your medical aid
Visit the pre-admissions department of the selected private hospital and speak to the staff about your maternity ward booking. They will run you through the procedure. A small cash deposit may be necessary at the time of admission if you are on medical aid. Semi-private and private maternity wards may or may not be covered by your medical aid plan. If not then you will have to pay a little extra in cash to secure your bed in these wards.
However, if you do not have medical aid then you will have to pay a large deposit or even the entire delivery package fee upfront. Cash or credit cards are your only payment options in most private hospitals. This amount can vary anywhere from R10,000 to R30,000, sometimes more or less depending on the private hospital you choose in South Africa. Upfront cash fees do not include your baby’s stay in a neonatal ICU should complications arise. Cash patients need to prepare themselves financially for this possibility, as a few days in neonatal ICU can run into the tens of thousands of rands.
You may need to visit the hospital again around the 32 week mark for pre-admission maternity counselling. Here a staff member will run you through all the procedures that you need to know for the time of delivery. This includes when you should arrive at the hospital, antenatal classes for mothers, the contents of your maternity hospital bag and other details relevant to mother and child’s care in hospital.