Your Right to Choose: Choosing a Birth Hospital/Centre

choosing where i give birth

Did you know that 40% of women who recently gave birth either weren’t aware or didn’t feel that they had a choice about where they gave birth? New research commissioned by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found that more women must be made aware of their right to choose their birth hospital/centre.

The research, which surveyed over 1,000 women who had given birth in England in the last three years, found that 40% either weren’t aware or didn’t feel that they had a choice about where they could give birth. Of those who had chosen, 53% stated this was a ‘very important’ decision, however 57% spent less than an hour choosing theirs, suggesting a lack of awareness about the amount of information that is available to help make an informed choice. 

The CQC is encouraging all expectant parents to understand their right to choose where to give birth and to use CQC inspection reports in order to help make an informed, considered decision. The Deputy Chief Inspector at the CQC, Heidi Smoult, says, "It’s essential that all women are fully informed about the options they have regarding their choices over where they give birth. It’s an important decision and while advice from family and friends can be useful, it’s important that expectant parents are fully informed about the options they have available to them throughout their pregnancy and understand the benefits and potential risks of any choice they make. 

They are multiple sources of information to help make a decision including our independent inspection reports. Our inspection reports provide information about many aspects of maternity care within each hospital. We inspect asking 5 key questions: Is the service safe? Is it effective? Are the staff caring and responsive to people’s needs and is the service well led? Then give each hospital a rating of: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate."

So were/are YOU aware of your choice surrounding the place you will or did give birth? With my second little boy I remember discussing it with my midwife as I'd recently moved but wanted to give birth at the same hospital that I had my first Son at as I felt that the hospital staff had been caring and that the hospital itself was clean and safe. I wasn't however, aware of the CQC's independent inspection reports - I had no idea that you could find reports about your local maternity services. But I think it's brilliant that you can and I am more than happy to share this on my blog. Expectant parents need to know that they have choices when it comes to birth to make the experience as positive as possible. Bringing a child in to the world either via vaginal birth or caesarean is such a vulnerable moment in time for women and making the right choices when it comes to hospitals and care can make such a difference.  

Wherever you choose to give birth your experience should be a positive one. You can give birth at home, in a unit run by midwives (a midwifery unit or birth centre) or in hospital. Some hospitals have a labour ward run by doctors who work with midwives and also a separate midwifery unit. The choice you have about where to have your baby will depend on your needs and, to some extent, on where you live. If you'd like to find out more you can use the hashtag #YourBirthPlan on social media and you can visit cqc.org.uk/yourbirthplan.

Thank you for reading. 
Alex xo

**Written in partnership with the Care Quality Commission who regulate all health and social care services in England. 

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