Your rights during labour
Here are some key facts about your rights during labour, and suggestions to help you make the right decisions when you need to.
It is not possible to know ahead of time exactly what your birth experience will be like. Being as informed as possible in advance can help couples deal wisely with any new decisions that may arise at the time.
The legal rights of pregnant women
Women are responsible for and have the legal right to give informed consent or informed refusal regarding interventions and alternatives during pregnancy, labour and after birth.
Maternity professionals are legally bound
Maternity professionals are responsible for and legally bound to take the mother’s considerations into account when recommending interventions or alternatives. This includes letting mothers know of any side effects procedures may cause and making sure they have all the information necessary, pre-labour, to make informed decisions.
Why legal processes for informed consent or refusal are needed
Following the legal processes for informed consent or refusal is important to prevent interventions being seen as routine, even when unnecessary, especially as interventions may be disruptive, uncomfortable, cause more serious side effects, and lead to the use of other interventions, which can have lasting effects on the health and well being of mothers and babies.
Key questions to ask include:
- What choices are available and supported in my care setting and through my caregivers?
- What does the best available research say about the beneficial and harmful effects of each of these choices?
- What are my own needs and preferences and those of my partner?
- If the options I want are not available, would I consider switching to a care setting or caregiver that does offer the preferred care?