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Can I Choose Where I Give Birth?

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 22/10/2013

If you and your baby are well and have been throughout your pregnancy, you can choose to have your baby at any one of the following:

  • At home
  • In the hospital
  • A birth centre or midwife-led birth unit

You have the right to make a choice about where you give birth at any stage of your pregnancy as long as you have the mental capacity to make the decision yourself.

Can I Be Forced to have a Hospital Birth?

Hospital

You cannot be forced to give birth anywhere you do not feel comfortable. If there have been complications throughout your pregnancy, suggestions may be made that you give birth in hospital just to be safe. However, it should be noted that all women are entitled to maternity care in hospital.

If you have been advised to give birth in a hospital, you cannot be forced to do so, but that advice should be given with the best interests of you and your child in mind.

What if my Choice is Refused?

If a public body has refused to let you give birth in your chosen place, they will have to justify that decision. If they have refused to respect your right to give birth say, for example, at home, they would have to explain why they have taken that decision and if their decision was reasonable.

If you were specifically told by your midwife or other healthcare professional that you could give birth at home then you should expect to be given the treatment you were promised. This is called 'legitimate expectation'.

If there are valid reasons for not considering your decision, these will usually be explained to you.

If you have requested a midwife when you give birth at home, this request should be carried out regardless of whether your midwife agrees with your choice or not.

What if my Right to Choose has been Ignored?

If your right to choose where you give birth has not been upheld and as a result you or your baby were harmed then you may have a claim for compensation.

Because of the hospital's failure to follow your wishes, your baby may have been born with a birth injury. This could have a devastating effect on their life and you may find it difficult financially to care for them. If this is the case, a claim for compensation could help you provide he care that they need.

Top Tips

  • You are entitled to ask for an explanation for any decision made before, during or after giving birth
  • If your right to choose was ignored and it has caused harm, you may be able to make a claim for compensation
  • There are solicitors who specialise in birth injuries – Simpson Millar LLP has a long history of dealing in this area

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