“What are my choices in childbirth?”
“Don’t you have to be hooked up to the monitor?”
“Do I have to stay in bed during labor?”
“Will my doctor allow me to push in any position I want?”
“My doctor says we should induce at 40 weeks.”
“Can I get in the tub or shower after my water has broken?”
“Will they take my baby from me?”
“But you can’t have a vaginal birth once you’ve had a cesarean.”
“How many people are allowed in the room when my baby is born?”
Do these sound familiar to you? If you’re pregnant and anticipating the birth of your child, maybe you’ve spoken some of these statements. Maybe you have heard stories from friends about their experiences in labor and delivery and you are wondering what that says about your upcoming birthing time. What these statements all have in common is that they reveal the mindset of the person speaking them, which is an underlying assumption that someone else will be making choices about your childbirth experience.
Did you know you have choices?
Often, women assume that whatever their Care Provider says is the way it will go, or because you have chosen a particular doctor, midwife or birthing location, you have to do things the way they usually do them. The truth is, you are the consumer and just as is said in other businesses, “the customer is always right.” The idea of informed consent and refusal means you have a right to accept or refuse any and every form of treatment or intervention during your birth experience. Think about it this way: if a person can refuse a blood transfusion, chemotherapy or mammograms, you can say no to anything you want to in childbirth!
Please note I am not saying doctors, midwives, nurses or any medical provider is wrong or should be told no. They’re not the bad guys! It’s important for you to choose Care Providers you respect and trust and build a collaborative relationship with them. If you aren’t medically trained, you should have someone who IS medically trained take care of you and your baby! The key to informed consent and refusal, though, is the informed part.
The Power and Problem with Choices
The power in having choices is that choices unlock opportunity. When you choose to advocate for yourself and make the choices that are right for you, regardless of what others may think, you open up a whole world of empowerment and experiences you may have never had if you had followed someone else’s path.
The problem with choices in childbirth is they don’t make much sense if you don’t understand them. What this means in the childbirth arena is that it’s hard to decide whether or not you want something if you don’t know the risks, benefits and if, when, why, where and how it might be beneficial to you. The use of forceps might sound like a medieval torture device until you know they could save your baby’s life without the turmoil of cesarean as major abdominal surgery. When considering what kind of childbirth education you will pursue, be sure you are able to gain information about your choices in a way you can understand and assimilate into your worldview.
What Your Choices Say about You
The choices you make say a lot about your worldview, personality, background, preferences and experiences. There is no right and wrong here, only what’s right for you! I have come across many clients who think they wanted one thing based on someone’s else’s criteria and when it came down to it, they ended up choosing what looked like a completely opposite option, but it was absolutely right for them.
Choices are being made about your birth experience, whether you make them or not. I just want to make sure you make choices based on facts, not on fear or because someone else told you it was good. Only you know what good is for you! It’s important for you to know who you are, how you want to feel about your birth experience and what kind of memories you want to have.
Written by Missy David, the Honeybee Mama