Showing the birth options lead to more woman having the birth they wanted

Follow a review of maternity services, NHS England set out a five year strategy ‘Better Births’, to improve outcomes of maternity services in England. Two key recommendations from Better Births are to improve choice and personalisation for women accessing maternity services, and empower them to make decisions to meet their needs.

In responses, NHS England has developed seven Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers to test ways of achieving this. Pioneers are working to widen and deepen choices available to women across CCG boundaries by breaking down geographical boundaries, attracting new providers and empowering women to take control of their choices.

For one Pioneer site in the South, choice for women was for the most part limited to their local maternity provider, with 94% of women registered with a GP delivering at their local hospital.

The Pioneer site wanted to ensure women knew they had the choice of maternity service providers across CCG boundaries, so they created a ‘choice booklet’ and poster to promote this. Both were designed, tested and revised through an engagement process, and included information women asked for such as statistics on each birth setting , breastfeeding, healthy weight, healthy eating, exercise, smoking and mental health.

The Pioneer also trained a Transformation Midwife based within the trust, to ensure they were empowered and equipped to have the choice conversation with women. 66% of women surveyed found the booklet useful with many saying there was ‘lots more choice’ than they first thought and that it was ‘useful for a first time pregnancy’.

There are now more than 2,400 women using the choice resources for information on where to give birth across the pioneer site and not just in hospital, meaning that they are now benefitting from a wider access to maternity services; making decisions which meet their needs; and experiencing a more fulfilling and enjoyable birth.