Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser at the NCT shared this with me recently after a case where a GP was apparently choosing the place of birth for the women in their care!
“It was confirmed in Parliament this year that Maternity Matters™ (2007) remains maternity policy for the current government. It says:
The national choice guarantees four national choice guarantees will be available to all women and their partners. By having these guarantees, women and their partners are given the opportunity to make informed choices throughout pregnancy, birth and during the postnatal period:
- Choice of how to access maternity care. When they first learn that they are pregnant, women and their partners will be able to go straight to a midwife if they wish, or to their General Practitioner. Self-referral into the local midwifery service is a choice that will speed up and enable earlier access to maternity services.
- Choice of type of antenatal care. Depending on their circumstances, women and their partners will be able to choose between midwifery care or care provided by a team of maternity health professionals including midwives and obstetricians. For some women, team care will be the safest option.
- Choice of place of birth. Depending on their circumstances, women and their partners will be able to choose where they wish to give birth. In making their decision, women will need to understand that their choice of place of birth will affect the choice of pain relief available to them. For example, epidural anaesthesia will only be available in hospitals where there is a 24 hour obstetric anaesthetic service.
The options for place of birth are:
- birth supported by a midwife at home
- birth supported by a midwife in a local midwifery facility such as a designated local midwifery unit or birth centre. The unit might be based in the community, or in a hospital; patterns of care vary across the country to reflect different local needs. These units promote a philosophy of normal and natural labour and childbirth. Women will be able to choose any other available midwifery unit in England.
- birth supported by a maternity team in a hospital. The team may include midwives, obstetricians, paediatricians and anaesthetists. For some women, this type of care will be the safest option but they too should have a choice of hospital. All women will be able to choose any available hospital in England.”
If you have to stand up to get your rights respected, there’s also a Birthrights fact sheet that might help you prove your point.