Throughout my two pregnancies, I didn’t give much thought to where my children were going to be delivered. It’s not something I thought I had much choice about and, if I’m honest, I just opted for the hospital that was the closest to us. I made the decision so quickly, I barely remember discussing it with my midwife.
I was recently contacted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) about their new maternity campaign #YourBirthPlan. The campaign aims to educate mums to be about the maternity care services that are available to them, so that they can make more of an informed decision about where to give birth.
Heidi Smoult is a Deputy Chief Inspector for Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As a new mum herself, she is the perfect person to tell us all about the campaign…
The day your baby is born is one of the most important days of your life and wherever you choose to give birth, your experience should be a positive one. There are a number of options when it comes to choosing where to give birth including in hospital, in a consultant-led or midwife-led unit; in a birthing centre or at home, although the options available will depend on whether your pregnancy is considered high risk or not.
So I was surprised by the results of recent research that CQC commissioned, which found that 40% of new mums in England either weren’t aware or didn’t feel they had a choice about their birth hospital. Of those who did choose, 57% spent less than an hour on this important decision.
Throughout your pregnancy there are lots of decisions to make, including choosing a birth plan and where to have your baby. As a new mum myself I understand just how overwhelming all the different decisions and choices can be. While family and friends will do their best to be helpful, it’s important that expectant parents use a range of resources to help fully understand the options that are available to them.
The CQC’s inspection reports are available to view online for free, and provide information about all aspects of maternity care services in England. As part of our inspections we ask the following 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 we give each hospital a rating of: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate.
Our recently commissioned research found the most influencing factors affecting where women choose to give birth were the hospital being close to home (65%), followed by hospital cleanliness and safety (55%), a good reputation (39%) and caring staff (36%).
It also found that 95% of women who had used our reports found them helpful when preparing for the arrival of a new baby, so if you’re in the process of making your birth plan, I’d advise you to make the most of our maternity reports to help you make an informed choice – I know I did.
If you’re a new parent, we want to hear from you about your experiences of care – both good and bad – via our website. By telling us about your experiences, you can help to inform our monitoring and inspection activity, and help expectant parents when they’re choosing where to give birth.
Everyone should feel confident to make a fully informed choice about where to have their baby in order to have the best possible birth experience.
Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter: @CareQualityCommission/ @CareQualityComm with #YourBirthPlan
* Research carried out on behalf of the Care Quality Commission surveyed 1003 women aged between 18 and 45 who have given birth in hospital in England in the last three years