Free Information Pack

The Maternity Services Consumer Council believes all women and their partners, families/whānau and support people should be informed and included in decisions relating to their care. This free information pack can help you navigate the choices you have and the decisions you may make during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The pack is FREE for individuals, just pay postage.

What’s in the pack

Our evidence-based, resource series for pregnant women and their whanau/families, is split into two categories – The Facts and Your Choices. This helpful and comprehensive pack contains all twelve resources from the Your Choices and The Facts ranges.
Click or tap the title of each resource for more information. Scroll down to order your free pack today!

If you have the ability to translate any of these resources into a language we do not have as yet available please email us at mscc@maternity.org.nz

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Choices for Childbirth

Mother smiling at camera while holding newborn baby in a hospital setting.The first health professional you see in your pregnancy is required to provide you with information regarding the options you have for caregivers and place of birth. Our Choices for Childbirth resource covers;

Choices for Childbirth is available as a print copy in ten languages and as a digital PDF in العربية (Arabic), Français (French) and 漢語 (Traditional Chinese). By default, the pack includes the English version. If you would like Choices for Childbirth in your language, please say so in the order notes during checkout.

Languages available: English, Te reo Māori, gagana fa'a Samoa (Samoan), Français (French, PDF), 漢語 (Traditional Chinese, PDF), Faka Tonga (Tongan), العربية (Arabic, PDF), فارسی (Farsi)日本語 (にほんご) (Japanese), ဗမာစာ (Burmese), Soomaaliga, af Soomaali (Somali), 한국어 (Korean), Español (Spanish)

Informed Choice

Pregnant woman and midwife discussing options while midwife feels her pregnant belly
It's your right to discuss your options

This resource is part of our Your Choice series, the title was carefully chosen as it is important that women and their families/whanua understand that they do have a choice and that includes saying "No", or asking for more information.

It contains information on:

Our aim is to provide women and their family/whanua with a tool that will enable them to make an informed choice on the seemingly ever increasing list of pregnancy and birth procedures/interventions that are right for them.

Life carries risks, so does pregnancy and birth. There are no zero risk choices. Today’s maternity care culture focuses on fear and has more faith in medical interventions and technology than the innate ability of women to grow, birth and mother their babies. Each woman has the right to weigh up the benefits and risks of any medical intervention and make the choice that is most acceptable to her.

Screening During Pregnancy

This resource is the second in our Your Choice series. It contains information on the screening and monitoring procedures that are now being undertaken during pregnancy. Some of these procedures have been part of maternity care for decades despite a lack of evidence that they offer any benefits to either the mother of the baby.

Mother drinks glucose drink for the oral glucose tolerance screening test after having bloods drawn
Mother drinks glucose drink for the oral glucose tolerance screening test after having bloods drawn - Photo courtesy of Tamero Barnes

The resource provides information on what these screening tests are and the benefits and risks of the following tests and screening procedures:

It is important that the midwife or doctor explains the screening tests and procedures that are offered. None of them are compulsory and you can choose whether or not to have any of these tests.

Informed Choice

Pregnant woman and midwife discussing options while midwife feels her pregnant belly
It's your right to discuss your options

This resource is part of our Your Choice series, the title was carefully chosen as it is important that women and their families/whanua understand that they do have a choice and that includes saying "No", or asking for more information.

It contains information on:

Our aim is to provide women and their family/whanua with a tool that will enable them to make an informed choice on the seemingly ever increasing list of pregnancy and birth procedures/interventions that are right for them.

Life carries risks, so does pregnancy and birth. There are no zero risk choices. Today’s maternity care culture focuses on fear and has more faith in medical interventions and technology than the innate ability of women to grow, birth and mother their babies. Each woman has the right to weigh up the benefits and risks of any medical intervention and make the choice that is most acceptable to her.

Labour and Birth

This resource is the third in our Your Choice series. It contains information on the choices women have around the interventions that have become routinely used during normal birth. Some of these procedures have been part of maternity care for decades despite a lack of evidence that they offer any benefits to either the mother of the baby.

Spouse supporting pregnant woman in labour by massaging her shoulders
A supportive spouse during an active labour - CC Jason Lander on Flickr

This pamphlet provides information about the benefits and risks of the following tests and procedures:

It is important that the midwife or doctor explains the risks and benefits of each intervention and what is involved before you agree to any of them. None of these interventions are compulsory and you can choose whether or not to have any of them. Also see our Informed Choice pamphlet.

After the Birth

This resource is the fourth in our Your Choice series. It contains information on the procedures and interventions that are offered to mothers (namely the Anti-D injection) and to their babies during the early postpartum period following birth. The resource provides information about the benefits and risks of the following tests and procedures:

Smiling mother with newborn baby breastfeeding for the first time shortly after birth
Breastfeeding for the first time shortly after birth

None of these tests are compulsory and it is important that the midwife or doctor explains each of the tests or procedures that are offered. It is your choice as to whether or not you or your baby have any of them.

Choosing Where to Labour and Birth

Labouring mother and her partnet in a birth pool at home.
Labouring in water can have a significant impact on birth outcome and increase satisfaction. Photo Copyright Teah Carlson and Claire Humphries Photography

Over the past few decades studies have revealed that the birthing environment has a significant impact on a woman during labour and birth. This research shows that where a woman labours influences both the progress of her labour and her birth outcome. If the birthing environment is one which supports the basic physical and hormonal needs of a labouring woman then this will help her to give birth normally and safely without unnecessary interventions. In this way the birthing environment itself can be seen as an intervention that can either help or hinder a woman giving birth, as is the Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) a woman chooses to care for her during pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks postpartum.

This resource provides you with evidence-based information about how the place of birth can impact on your labour and birth, as well as on the future health and well-being of both you and your baby; information that will help you make an informed choice.

Induction of Labour

The majority of healthy pregnant women can expect labour to begin naturally and the process of labour to result in the birth of a healthy baby. However, induction of labour is one of the most common medical interventions in the birth process and it often results in a cascade of further interventions. For mothers who have had an uncomplicated pregnancy it is usually preferable to wait until labour begins of its own accord as there are significant risks involved when labour is artificially induced.

Woman labouring in hospital with an IV line in her hand
Induction via Syntocin ('synthetic oxytocin') IV

This MSCC resource provides you with evidence-based information about induction of labour. It is based on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) 2008 Guideline “Induction of labour.”
Information in the resource covers:

Before you give consent to have your labour induced your midwife or doctor should make sure you understand why it is being recommended, and explain the risks, benefits and possible consequences of the induction method being offered. While the use of induction is widespread and there are a number of methods available, there is still much that is unknown about the adverse effects of inductions, particularly the long-term impact.
You also have the right to ask for a second opinion from another health professional.

"Most labours begin spontaneously without the need for any intervention and research supports women with uncomplicated pregnancies being given time to go into labour naturally."
- National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) ‘Induction of labour.’ July 2008.

Caesarean Section

Most healthy pregnant women can expect the natural process of labour to result in the vaginal birth of a healthy baby. Despite this fact caesarean section has become the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the western world. Caesarean section rates continue to rise, while mounting evidence of the short and long term harms that having a caesarean poses for mothers and babies continues to emerge. When a caesarean section is really necessary it can be a life-saving operation for a mother and/or her baby. However, because so many of the caesarean sections performed these days are not necessary, the result has been a rapid rise in significant harms to both mothers and babies.

Mother sees her baby for the first time during caesarean surgery
Mother sees her baby for the first time during caesarean surgery

This MSCC resource provides you with evidence-based information about caesarean sections.

Information covered:

Before you give consent to a caesarean section your midwife or doctor should make sure you understand why the operation is being recommended. The following questions will help you make an informed choice:

Is this an emergency or do we have time to talk?

You have the right to privacy while you make your decision. It is okay to ask the person to leave while you discuss your options with your partner and/or whanau or in the case of an elective caesarean to ask for more written information to take away and consider before deciding what your answer is. You also have the right to ask for a second opinion from another health professional.

"The leading drivers in the rise in caesarean section rates are the existing medical culture and preference for caesareans; the sterile and cold environment provided for birthing in hospitals; changes in obstetric training; loss of maternal body confidence and fear of labour."
- Amali Lokugamage. The Heart in the Womb.

Epidurals During Labour

Epidural anaesthetic in lockbox with warning sticker, "For epidural use only"
An epidural analgesia lockbox

The majority of healthy pregnant women can expect the natural process of labour to result in the birth of a healthy baby without the need for many of the interventions that now form part of modern obstetrics. Epidural analgesia is now one of the most common interventions in the birth process and the most popular method of pain relief during labour in the westernised world. However the benefits of epidurals come with significant risks for the labouring woman and her baby.

This MSCC resource provides you with evidence-based information about epidurals during labour:

Before you give consent to an epidural it is important that you are aware of and understand the risks and benefits of this form of pain relief. While the use of epidurals is widespread and there are now a variety of different regional analgesia techniques available, there is still much that is unknown about the adverse effects of epidurals, particularly potential long-term adverse effects.

Labour and Birth in Water

Today many women choose to labour and/or give birth while immersed in water. Some women choose to labour in a pool but get out before giving birth to their baby. Other women choose to remain in the pool and give birth to their baby in water. Labouring and birthing in water was once only an option for women planning a home birth. However, the benefits of being in warm water for women in labour are now well recognised and most maternity hospitals and birth centres have pools that women can use during labour or to give birth in.

Mother laughing joyfully after the birth of her baby in a birth pool while the father cries in joy
Labour and birth in water can be a satisfying and joyful experience - Image CC bethanypetrik on Flickr

This MSCC resource provides you with evidence-based information about both the benefits and potential complications of labouring and giving birth in water.

Information covered:

 

“An important element in using immersion in water for labour and possibly for the birth of the baby is that it provides an effective way of helping the woman cope with the pain of labour, and gives back control of birth to the woman herself. Yet there is more to it even than that. It seems to create an entirely different environment and atmosphere for a woman giving birth, as it does also for the midwife caring for her. Birth takes place in a quiet room, with personal care from a midwife who is concerned to support the normal physiological process of birth.”
- Lesley Page and Sheila Kitzinger

Birthing the Placenta

The majority of healthy pregnant women can expect the natural process of labour to result in the birth of a healthy baby, followed by the birth of the placenta (afterbirth). The time between the birth of the baby and the delivery of the placenta is referred to as the third stage of labour and is a crucial time in the development of the bond between the mother and her new baby. Allowing the placenta to arrive naturally without the use of drugs and other interventions also has other important benefits.

This MSCC resource provides you with evidence-based information about the importance of birthing the placenta naturally, a process known as a physiological third stage of labour.

Parents with newborn baby and placenta in birthpool
The placenta and newborn after a physiologic third stage [CC] Justin & Shannon Major
Information covered:

Before you give consent to the active management of the third stage of labour your midwife or doctor should make sure you understand why it is being recommended, and explain the risks, benefits and possible consequences of the interventions being proposed.

“At a time when Mother Nature prescribes awe and ecstasy, we have injections, examinations, and clamping and pulling on the cord. Instead of body heat, skin-to-skin contact, and the baby’s innate instinct to find the breast, we offer separation, wrapping, and outside assistance to “attach” the baby. When time should stand still for those eternal moments of first contact, as mother and baby fall deeply in love, we have haste to deliver the placenta and clean up for the next case.”
- Sarah Buckley

Gestational Diabetes

 

Pregnant mother testing blood glucose with a finger prick test
Gestational diabetes blood glucose finger prick test

The majority of healthy women can expect to have an uncomplicated pregnancy, to begin labour naturally and to give birth to a healthy baby. However, the increasing medicalisation of both pregnancy and birth has resulted in huge changes in women’s experience of having a baby. Women are often unaware that they have the right to be given information on the risks and benefits of every procedure and test they are asked to undergo during pregnancy and to choose whether or not they will have it.

Over the past few decades pregnancy has become a nine-month obstacle race in which women are faced with making decisions about an increasing number of tests and procedures. Screening for gestational diabetes is one of them.

Our resource provides you with evidence-based information about gestational diabetes (GDM). Information covered:

Before you give consent to being screened or tested for gestational diabetes it is important that you are aware of and understand the risks, benefits and possible consequences of the tests you are being encouraged to undergo. While screening for gestational diabetes has become a routine part of pregnancy care, the definition of this condition has recently been widened and there is now a risk of many pregnant women being overdiagnosed and having their birth managed in a way that would not have occurred had they not been labelled as having gestational diabetes.

Remember, you have the right to choose whether or not to be tested for gestational diabetes.