Choosing maternity care

Page last updated: 6 May 2022

Having a baby is a very special thing, but it can also feel overwhelming – especially if this is your first time. Everything is new and unknown, but there's lots of information that can help.

What you should expect

During your pregnancy, health staff you meet should make sure you are safe and well-cared for. They should be kind, have a caring, compassionate attitude and build a positive relationship with you, and those close to you. Your individual preferences as well as your spiritual, ethnic and cultural needs should always be respected by staff.

You should be fully supported by staff to make informed decisions. You should be able to ask questions if you don't understand what is happening. Staff should take all practical steps to make sure you receive the support you need to cope emotionally with your care.

Wherever you choose to give birth your experience should be a positive one. You can give birth at home, in a unit run by midwives (a midwifery unit or birth centre) or in hospital. Some hospitals have a labour ward run by doctors who work with midwives and also a separate midwifery unit. The choice you have about where to have your baby will depend on your needs and, to some extent, on where you live. Maternity staff should take account of your needs and wishes throughout your pregnancy, birth, and in the days after your baby is born.

We regulate and inspect all maternity services in England

Inspections cover antenatal services, pregnancy units, maternity assessment centres, labour wards, postnatal services and neonatal services.

Our five key questions

When we inspect maternity services, we ask these five key questions:

  • Is this service safe?
  • Is this service effective?
  • Is this service caring?
  • Is this service responsive to people's needs?
  • Is this service well-led?

Read our inspection reports

You can look for inspection reports on your local maternity units using the search boxes on this page.

Our ratings are on a four-point scale: outstanding, good, requires improvement, inadequate.

Find out what other women think

You can find out what other women think of your local maternity services and compare hospitals using the National Maternity Survey results.

Over 23,000 women took part in the survey giving their views on whether they were given the pain relief they wanted, if they were left alone at a time when it worried them and whether they were offered a choice of where to have their baby.

Give us feedback on your care

If you do have any concerns or worries about the care you receive during your pregnancy, tell the service and also tell us – the information and feedback you provide will help us to monitor services and plan our inspections.

You can give feedback on care using our website, by calling 03000 616161 or by emailing