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United Kingdom (UK) - Birth

If an expat gives birth, or marries and has a child, there is a registration process to follow. Any birth in Northern Ireland, Wales, and England needs to be registered within 42 days of the baby’s birth. As long as the mother is from the United Kingdom, the birth can be registered at the local office. In Scotland and for a birth abroad the rules are different. Babies born in Scotland are required to be registered after 21 days. The local registrar completes the process.

For an expat mother in the United Kingdom a birth certificate from the UK is necessary, however the mother will have to register the child’s birth in their local country under their local country’s guidelines. The only reason not to register a child’s birth in the mother’s home country is if there is an intention of staying in the UK. In this situation, the child can have UK certification of birth showing that the child is a citizen of the UK. During the registration process the birth is recorded in the General Register Office.

Documents required for registering a birth include the place and date, name, surname, and sex of the baby. The parents’ full names, addresses, birthdates, dates of marriage or civil partnership, jobs, and mother’s maiden surname are also required. In Scotland only, the hospital card issued and marriage certificate are required. Even without documentation a birth will be registered; the missing information will be put in as “excluded” details.

Sometimes documentation is missing due to home births. The hospital card from Scotland may not be available if someone has a home birth. Home births are not as common today as they were in the mid-1950s. Most local authorities in the UK see about 1% to 3.8% of births at home in Wales, 1.2% in Scotland, 2.7% in England, and less than 0.4% in Northern Ireland.

Midwife services and nurses qualified to help with home births are still available should a mother decide to remain at home. Those who choose to deliver at home often do so due to worries of potential disease or infections, and general noise or interruptions in a hospital. Hospital births are considered the preferred method by the majority despite some of the disadvantages named above, mostly due to fear of complications. Birth complications have not decreased with modern medicines. Doctors still see haemorrhages, bladder infections or tearing, and other complications. Smaller pelvic sizes in women can also lead to significant issues during childbirth.

Midwife services begin once a mother has decided on a homebirth. A midwife can work with a doctor regarding medical complications and health checkups for mother and baby. Midwives can also conduct their own health checks depending on the preference of the mother. Most women who use a midwife tend to believe in natural childbirth, such as water or bed births as opposed to epidurals or other medications to help with the pain. The mother is able to make a decision concerning her preferences during pregnancy.

Abortion Act of 1967

In the United Kingdom abortion is covered under the Abortion Act of 1967. This act is only applicable in England, Wales, and Scotland. The law states that any abortion needs to be carried out in a specialist licensed clinic or hospital. Two doctors must also agree that an abortion is less harmful to a woman’s mental or physical health than for the pregnancy to continue. Abortion must be carried out in the first 24 weeks, except under rare extenuating circumstances.

An abortion is typically sought or suggested when there is a risk to the mother’s health; if the baby has a serious, life-threatening medical condition; or due to personal circumstances. Personal circumstances can include things such as pregnancy from rape.

Rare instances in which abortion can happen after 24 weeks include aborting the foetus to save the woman’s life, to prevent injury either physical or mentally to the woman, or if a serious handicap is possible. The NHS can conduct abortions and must adhere to a suggestion from two doctors that termination proceeds. The NHS may pay 60% to 90% of the service fee for the procedure. In special areas the NHS can pay for termination services at private clinics.

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