Not sure where to give birth? It's your choice...

Did you know that you can choose to have your baby in a hospital, a birthing centre or at home? Wherever you choose to give birth, your experience should be a positive one. CQC publishes reports to help you make the best choice for you.

As the arrival of our second baby looms closer it’s time to start thinking about my birth plan. Not the pain relief or what I’ll wear…. Although important, not as important as where I’ll give birth.

Did you know you can choose?

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.

Although midwives are advocates of home births for low risk pregnancies, as great an option as any, many of those who choose a birth centre or local hospital aren’t aware they can choose which one they use.

You aren’t obligated to use your nearest hospital or birth centre. You actually have a choice. If your local hospital doesn’t appeal to you there is nothing stopping you from choosing another. As long as it’s realistic for you to get there when the time comes and they have the capacity to cater for you it shouldn’t be an issue.

The CQC ask five key questions when inspecting a service – Is the service safe? Is it effective? Are the staff caring and responsive to people’s needs and is the service well led? You too should be asking these things when making the decision in your birth plan.

Do your research, visit them all and make an informed decision for yourself.

It’s been almost three years since Little Fox graced us with his presence, and three years since I found out things don’t always go to plan. I had opted for our local birth centre, but due to reduced movements, I found myself on the maternity ward strapped to a monitor.

Although things may not always go as planned, it’s nice to feel prepared and to have an idea of what you want. The medical staff will usually try their best to meet your wishes.

Choosing how and where you’ll give birth isn’t something to be taken lightly. But many expectant mothers aren’t aware of their options.

The research also found a third (34%) of mums spent less than an hour choosing the type of birth they want and making a birth plan, and 15% didn’t do this at all.

We moved house mid-pregnancy with Little Fox and I opted to stay with the midwives and hospital in our previous county. A lot of pregnant friends were surprised I could do this. It was only an extra 20 minutes away and I liked their facilities more. I felt more comfortable with the staff and wouldn’t have wanted to change my plans so far into my pregnancy.
CQC 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 they had a choice about their birth hospital.

Making a decision

Thankfully I’m aware of my options, which means this time around I know I can choose. I’ll be visiting two local hospitals which have integrated birth centres and weighing up my options. This doesn’t affect the care I’ll receive but allows me to see the facilities and staff to make an informed decision on the care I’d like to receive. Let’s not rule out the option of a home birth either!

Take a look at the CQC Infographic below or visit www.cqc.org.uk/yourbirthplan to learn more about your right to choose and what you should take into consideration.

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