Know your rights over where to give birth

New research from CQC shows that you should know your rights over where to give birth

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has commissioned new research that has discovered that women are unaware of their rights over where they can give birth.

More than 1,000 women, who had all given birth in England over the past three years, were spoken to and the survey found that 40% were not aware that they had a choice over where they gave birth or didn’t feel they had a choice.

Some of those responding had actively chosen their birth location and of those, more than half said that this had been a very important decision.

57% of the women spent under an hour choosing their birth location, which perhaps means the respondents didn’t have the information they needed to make an informed choice.

Where should I give birth? See our helpful feature

The CQC says all mums- and dads-to-be should be aware of their right to choose and is encouraging then to use CQC inspection reports to make an informed decision. The CQC monitors all birth wards and units, including private and independent ones.

Heidi Smoult, Deputy Chief Inspector at the Care Quality Commission, explains: “Pregnancy is a very exciting time but it can also be daunting and many women can feel at their most vulnerable. Women have the option to have a hospital, birthing centre or home birth. It’s vital that all women know they have a choice over where they give birth. It’s a big decision and while advice from family and friends can be useful, it’s important that expectant parents know there’s free independent information available to help them. Our inspection reports provide detailed scrutiny of all aspects of maternity care – we urge all prospective parents to do their research to help ensure they have the best possible birth experience.”

The top factors influencing where women gave birth were:

A hospital close to home (65%)

Hospital cleanliness and safety (55%)

Hospital having a good reputation (39%)

Caring staff (36%)

95% of parents-to-be who used CQC reports inspection reports said they were useful in informing their birth choice decision.

As part of the campaign the CQC also wants new parents to share their experiences of maternity services. Heidi continues: “We really want to hear about women’s real-life experiences as this information supports our monitoring, inspecting and rating of services and helps us provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive picture of the current quality of maternity care being provided at a local level across the country. We urge new parents to help other parents by sharing their experiences with us.”


For more information about the CQC’s campaign and to find out how to share your experiences please visit the


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