Choice and informed consent

Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) supports your right to be informed about your pregnancy and birth options. Better Births, a National Maternity Review commissioned to improve maternity services in England, states that women should be able to make decisions about the support they need during birth and where they would prefer to give birth, whether this is at home, in a midwifery unit or in an obstetric unit, after full discussion of the benefits and risks associated with each option.

The maternity team at West Herts is committed to ensuring informed consent and choice are at the core of pregnancy and birth related discussions. This includes supporting service users make informed choices, with regards to where they give birth and how. Through shared decision making, services users will have an opportunity to work with their midwives, obstetricians and/or anaesthetist in making a joint decision. This includes making sure the person is aware and understands the benefits, harms and possible consequences of different options available to them. Leaflets and other resources may be used in this process.

Choice of place of birth

At your first appointment and towards the end of your pregnancy the midwife will discuss where you would like to have your baby.

There are three birth settings that you may be able to choose from, depending on your individual circumstance and the progress of your pregnancy. These are:

It is usual for women who have a straightforward pregnancy to give birth at home or in the Birth Centre.

If your pregnancy is not straightforward, you may be advised to give birth in the hospital Delivery Suite.

If you're not sure about where you would like to give birth, we invite you to take a look at our place of birth decision tree. Your community midwife will also discuss your options with you.

Click the link below to view the place of birth decision tree which gives the pros and cons for each of the three birth settings.

View the birth place decisions tool

Choice of mode of birth

Pregnancy, birth and life after a baby is born is a crucial time and life changing events for the future of a family. The majority of women and birthing people in the United Kingdom will give birth vaginally, recover well and have healthy babies. We understand, nonetheless, that there are individual circumstances where a service user may choose to opt against a vaginal birth or certain options to prepare birth (for example, induction of labour when indicated).

At West Herts, our maternity service advocates a service user’s right to make informed choices about their preferred place and mode of birth. To support this process, we have Birth Options and Vaginal Birth after Caesarean Section clinics, which are run by a senior midwife, a Consultant Midwife for Normal Birth or a Consultant Obstetrician; depending on your individual needs. Your midwife will ask you about your preferred place of birth and mode of birth at booking, so that we can offer a consultation in these clinics, to personalise the care and advice we provide to support your individual needs. Click here for more information about Birth Options and VBAC Clinics 


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