Toggle site contrast Toggle Contract

Making decisions around tests and procedures in pregnancy

Read our guide below about making decisions around tests and procedures in pregnancy.

You can also download a PDF version of this patient information by following the link on the right.

Giving informed consent for tests or procedures

You’ve been asked to give consent for a test or procedure during pregnancy, labour and birth.

A midwife or doctor will help you choose whether or not to have certain tests or procedures.

They’ll talk to you about the:

  • purpose, risks and benefits of the test or procedure
  • risks and benefits of alternative options, including not doing the test or procedure.

You’ll have the chance to ask further questions and weigh up the advantages and drawbacks. This process is called ‘giving informed consent’.

Even if you give consent, you can change your mind later about having certain tests or procedures.

How long will I have to consider my options?

This may vary. For example, in a routine antenatal appointment you may have the option to talk to a partner and reach a decision at a later stage.

There may also be circumstances where you need to decide whether to accept a procedure in a more urgent timeframe. For example, during an emergency you can still discuss your options but you may need to make a quick decision.


Some procedures, such as caesarean birth need your signature on a consent form after we’ve discussed all of the options and associated risks and benefits.

What information must a healthcare professional give me?

Following a landmark legal case in 2015 (Montgomery vs Lanarkshire Health Board), healthcare professionals must give you information which:

  • clearly outlines the potential treatment options, making sure you’re aware of both advantages and possible complications for each option
  • discusses the consequences of not performing any treatment or intervention.

They must make sure you have access to high-quality information to help decision-making. This might include an information sheet or video clip link.

Helthcare professionals must also:

  • give you enough time to reflect before making a decision
  • check you’ve fully understood your options and implications
  • document the above process in the maternity record
  • document any changes of mind about the treatment / test in the maternity record.

Can anyone sign on my behalf or stop me having a test pr procedure?


Relatives can’t sign on your behalf or stop you from having a test or procedure if you choose to have it. They also can’t make you have a test or procedure if you refuse.

Midwives and doctors can’t make you have a test or procedure if you refuse, even if they don’t agree with your decision.

You can get information sheets on various procedures on request.

Find out more about giving consent during pregnancy

How can I help reduce healthcare associated infections?

Infection prevention and control is important to the wellbeing of our patients so we have procedures in place. Keeping your hands clean is an effective way of preventing the spread of infections.

You, and anyone visiting you, must use the hand sanitiser available at the entrance to every ward before coming in and after you leave. You may need to wash your hands at the sink using soap and water. Hand sanitisers are not suitable for dealing with patients who have symptoms of diarrhoea.

More help or advice

Contact our patient advice and liaison service (PALS) on 01296 316042 or

About our patient information

We aim to make the information as up to date and accurate as possible, but please note that it’s subject to change. You must always check specific advice on any concerns you may have with your doctor.