Your A - Z guide to a government hospital birth

Photo by Hush Naidoo on
Photo by Hush Naidoo on

The initial elation of becoming a parent can quickly be overshadowed by the terror of having to pay sky-high medical fees.

And it's easy to assume that receiving the best care is only possible via private medical establishments because government facilities have been stigmatised for poor-quality service. 

Contrary to this perception, it is indeed possible to get quality treatment from your local government hospital – with some like the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town gaining international recognition in 2017. 

All South Africans have a right to free maternity treatment during pregnancy as well as postnatal care after baby is born, and we've written extensively on every aspect of what you can expect – from practical advice from experts to the lived experience of other mothers – which you'll find useful in guiding your choice.

Use the index below to research your options. 

Expert guidance

5 things you need to know to prepare for your government hospital birth 

From official documentation, booking your hospital bed and your rights as a patient, we get practical about exactly what will be required of you when heading to your local government hospital to give birth. By Sr Burgie Ireland, Your Pregnancy 

Are government hospitals safe?

An expert answers a reader's question. Health24

What other moms had to say 

Reader's Respond: Giving birth at a government hospital 

Here's what our readers have to say about giving birth at government hospitals. Parent24

SA's government hospitals: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly  

More women from across South Africa tell us about their experiences giving birth at government hospitals. Parent24

"Hospital birth? Never again!"  

A reader shares her horrific birth experience and vows to never give birth in a hospital again. Parent24

Navigating hospital protocol 

Hospital admin when you're in labour 

If your man is a scatter-brain (or a panic mechanic), make sure he knows the route to the hospital and has enough petrol in the car at all times! Your Pregnancy

How to choose your hospital for birth 

Consider these 12 questions when you choose your hospital. Health24

What about pain relief options? 

Bring on the drugs! Pain relief options in childbirth

If you want to do vaginal birth, but want some medicated help in coping with labour pain, here’s what modern day medicine has to offer and which of these pain relief options are available in government hospitals. By Tina Otte, Parent24

Getting organised 

What do I pack in my hospital bag for labour? 

It’s never too early to pack your suitcase. Here’s our list of must-haves to see you through the first exciting days in hospital...Your Pregnancy 

Hospital bags from around the world

7 women share what they've packed for the labour ward. By Caira-lee Durand 

How to choose your hospital for birth 

Consider these 12 questions when you choose your hospital. Health24

Where’s the best place to give birth in South Africa? 

Expectant parents have lots of choices to make when it comes to making a birth plan. Parent24

Printable: Birth Plan

Birth is one of the least predictable things but at least the hospital staff can have some idea of how to proceed. Parent24

What about medical aid? 

Medical aid: Not covered? 

What to do when you fall pregnant but don't have medical insurance. Parent24

Affordable maternity care for moms without medical aid 

An initiative making giving birth at private hospitals more affordable for moms without the finances to do so. Parent24

Still unsure a government hospital birth is for you?

Your birth options

Hospital birth or home birth? Vaginal or Caesarean? And what is a ventouse or VBAC? We take you through your birth options. By Tina Otte, Parent24

Are you planning on giving birth at a government hospital? Do you have any particular concerns? Tell us by emailing to and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  


Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive Parent24 stories directly to your inbox.  

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Should the red carpet portion of SONA be scrapped this year?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's inappropriate given the state of the country
94% - 1631 votes
No, it's part of the tradition
6% - 113 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.