Help I’m trapped! (Well, actually you aren’t)
If you’re anything like me it’s not uncommon to be dead set on one course of action and then have a complete about face and decide to move off in the opposite way. One minute I’m out for brunch and all set to order fruit salad and green tea but somehow out of my mouth comes a demand for a double chocolate muffin and large latte.
When it comes to maternity services though there seems to be a myth that once you’ve ticked the box at 8 weeks pregnant that says ‘birth centre’ or ‘labour ward’ of a certain hospital you have signed a legally binding contract from which you can’t hope to wriggle out. A swat team of white coated, stethescope wielding enforcers will descend from on high and chase you with a speculum should you dare to try and, gasp, change hospitals or, bigger gasp, have a homebirth.
Of course this is nonsense. If you aren’t happy with your booking hospital you can ask to have your care transferred to another. You might be met with a small sigh from the person faced with a modicum of extra paperwork but, as it’s their job, I wouldn’t be too concerned.
If you want to changed from hospital to home, birth centre to labour ward or anywhere in between then that is equally ok. Again the bureaucracy is more or less onerous from one NHS Trust to the next but even a couple of weeks before your due date it’s ok to change your mind. Some forward-thinking home birth teams (like my local Homerton one) are even keen for people to self-refer by making a quick call to them to avoid any over-the-top paperwork or homebirth naysayers. (I have their numbers should anyone need them!).
One thing to remember is that if you aren’t booked with your most local hospital and decide on a homebirth you’ll probably need to switch your care to your local team.
Otherwise research what’s best for you and feel free to have a change of heart. Birthchoice is a useful resource for research and AIMS is always there should you need to lend weight to any foot stamping.