The birth of a child should be a wonderful, life-changing time for a mother and her whole family. It is a time of new beginning, of fresh hopes and new dreams, of change and opportunity. It is a time when experiences we have can shape our lives and those of our babies and families forever. These moments are so precious, and so important, and yet so many women are still completely unaware of their rights to choose maternity care.
New research commissioned by the Care Quality Commission revealed that 40% of women either aren’t aware or don’t feel they have a choice about their birth hospital. The survey of over 1,000 women who had given birth in England in the last 3 years, also suggested there was a lack of awareness about the information that is available to help women make an informed choice about where to give birth.
YOU HAVE CHOICES. From the moment you learn you are pregnant, YOU are in control what happens to YOU and YOUR BODY.
Of course, not all choices we make hold such huge weight, but they are your choices to make all the same. All women should be presented with fair, unbiased information about maternity care and birthing options – such as the choice of hospital or birth centre – and given time to think about what they want to do.
Unfortunately, women don’t always have all their options explained to them by health professionals at the beginning of their pregnancies, with some women either unaware or too nervous to discuss or explore other birth plan options.
YOU HAVE CHOICES. You can choose to have your baby in hospital, in a birthing centre or at home. Although ultimately, your choice will depend on whether your pregnancy is classed as high-risk or not, where you live and what antenatal care is available in your area… but whether you choose a hospital, midwife-led unit or home, the place should feel right for you!
As a woman, you should be able to feel that you are in control of what is happening to you and able to make decisions about your care, based on your own needs.
If you are pregnant, then there are multiple sources of information to help you make that decision, including CQC’s independent inspection reports. Their inspection reports provide information about many aspects of maternity care within each hospital and ask 5 key questions: Is the service safe? Is it effective? Are the staff caring and responsive to people’s needs? Is the service well led?
The CQC found the top influencing factors affecting where women choose to give birth were the hospital being close to them (65%), followed by hospital cleanliness and safety (55%), a good reputation (39%) and caring staff (36%). CQC inspection reports include detailed information and answers to these key questions and can greatly help parents when making their birth choice decision.
Join The Conversation
If you’ve recently had a baby in hospital, then Care Quality Commission want to hear from you about your experiences of care. Use the #YourBirthPlan hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, or tell them about your care through their website.