If you’re pregnant right now, or trying for a baby, your eyes might have been drawn to the headlines today that pregnant women will get £3,000 to spend on their birth.
But, as we know well here at MFM HQ – and you do, too – the headlines aren’t always what they seem.
So we thought we’d take a deeper look into the issue and see what the real deal is.
When is the scheme starting?
First off – everything you’ve read in the newspapers is based on a report and is NOT going to be happening everywhere straight away, or necessarily at all.
The scheme has been proposed in the National Maternity Review and will be piloted next year in 4 health trusts.
Will I actually get £3,000 cash in hand to spend on my birth?
Even if the scheme does go ahead, the short answer to this is no.
The idea is that all pregnant women will be told about the budget on their first GP or midwife visit after finding out they’re pregnant.
They’ll then receive a list of providers of NHS care, including private companies that offer home births, hypnobirthing and acupuncture, and will be able to decide when and how they receive care based on a £3,000 budget – you wouldn’t actually get the money cash in hand.
So, for example, some women might choose a home birth, and then a series of breastfeeding classes while others might opt for spending on alternative birth options, worth up to £3,000.
Will everyone get the same budget?
No. £3,000 will be the amount ‘given’ to low-risk mums, but more money will be offered to those expected to have more complicated births and to anyone carrying multiples.
What do the experts say?
Those against the scheme say it will lead to more mums feeling pressured to go for home births or midwife centre births simply because they cost less, and could even lead to the closure of maternity units if women decide not to use them.
On the other hand, those in favour of the proposed changes say the plan will mean women will have more control over how they give birth, For example, former health minister Baroness Cumberlege, says:
“[Currently] women are not getting the choices they want. This is going to give women much more clout. It’s a driver for change, it’s a driver for choice.”