young mum on phone

Whether it’s simply for curiosity or because you want to query something, getting access to your maternity notes is every woman’s right. Here’s how to do it.

What are maternity or handheld notes?

You know the record book or folder your midwife gives you at your booking appointment? That’s your maternity or ‘handheld’ notes.  Your midwife will update them at each appointment, when you bring them along with you (NHS, 2017). You can ask your midwife to explain anything in your notes that you don't understand (NHS, 2017).

Oh, and take your notes with you wherever you go, in case you need medical attention while you're away from home.

Why would I want to see my maternity medical records?

When you’re giving birth, you’re probably not at your most observant. So it’s sometimes interesting to check out your maternity notes and get a different perspective on your birth experience.

You might want to question why certain decisions were made, or confirm facts to make a complaint. If you find that the notes aren’t right, you can also get them corrected or include a note from you too.

If there’s anything that’s unclear in your notes, your local NCT antenatal teacher might be able to help decipher it. You could also contact the PALS service at the hospital where you gave birth. Other contacts are your primary care trust, local health board or HSS Trust, or AIMS.

How to access maternity and birth records and notes

Accessing your maternity health record is free, and by law, you’re always allowed you to see it (NHS, 2018).  

Also, ask your midwife or maternity unit about accessing your maternity notes online as you should be able to do this too (Birthrights, 2017). The information on there should be up to date, as your midwife or other health professionals will have entered the details (Pregnotes, 2018).  

If you want a hard copy to take away, request it on email or by a letter to the person in charge of data at your hospital or GP’s surgery. You might be charged:

  • £10 for records that are only held electronically.
  • Up to £50 for those records that are not available in electronic form or only partially available in electronic form.

(NHS, 2015)

You’ll get a response no later than 40 days after your application is received, your identity is checked and you’ve paid. You’ll then get an appointment to see your records (NHS, 2015).

Your maternity records and your child’s records will be kept for 25 years after you give birth.

Your rights with your digital data

Your rights around the data are:

•          to be informed

•          to get access to it

•          to rectify or change it

•          and to restrict or stop processing it.

(DigitalNHS, 2018a)

By law you cannot:

•          erase or remove it

•          move, copy or transfer it

•          object to it being processed or used

•          know if a decision was made by a computer rather than a person.

(DigitalNHS, 2018b)

Problems accessing maternity records

If you have a tricky time getting a copy of your notes, contact the Chief Executive at the organisation you’re writing to and explain. If you still have problems, you can write to:

Information Commissioner's Office head office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF
Live chat: https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/
Email: casework@ico.org.uk
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (or +44 1625 545 700 if you would prefer not to call an ‘03’ number, or if calling from overseas)

Scotland office:
The Information Commissioner's Office – Scotland
45 Melville Street,
Edinburgh EH3 7HL
Tel: 0303 123 1115
Email: scotland@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Wales office:
Information Commissioner's Office – Wales
2nd Floor, Churchill House
Churchill Way,
Cardiff CF10 2HH
Tel: 029 2067 8400
Email: wales@ico.gsi.gov.uk
 
Northern Ireland office:
Information Commissioner's Office – Northern Ireland
51 Adelaide Street,
Belfast BT2 8FE
Tel: 028 9027 8757 / 0303 123 1114
Email: ni@ico.gsi.gov.uk

This page was last reviewed in May 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

Birthright. (2017) Accessing your records. Available from: http://www.birthrights.org.uk/library/factsheets/Accessing-Your-Records.pdf [Accessed: 28th May 2018]

Digital NHS. (2018a) Summary Care Record (SCR): GDPR information. Available from: https://digital.nhs.uk/about-nhs-digital/our-work/keeping-patient-data-safe/gdpr/gdpr-register/summary-care-record-scr [Accessed: 28th May 2018]

Digital NHS. (2018b) Summary Care Records (SCR). Available from: https://digital.nhs.uk/services/summary-care-records-scr [Accessed: 28th May 2018]

NHS. (2018) Your health and care records. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/records/healthrecords/Pages/what_to_do.aspx [Accessed: 28th May 2018]

NHS. (2017) Your pregnancy and baby guide. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/antenatal-midwife-care-pregnant/ [Accessed: 28th May 2018]

NHS. (2015) What are the fees for accessing medical records (health records)? Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2635.aspx [Accessed: 28th May 2018]

Pregnotes. (2018) Pregnotes. Available from: https://www.pregnotes.net/ [Accessed: 28th May 2018]

Related articles

young mum on phone

Local activities and meetups

NCT Membership
Support NCT Charity by becoming a member

Courses & workshops

Baby First Aid

Find out more

NCT Early Days course

Find out more

NCT Introducing Solid Foods online workshop

Find out more