No matter how much effort we put into our childbirth preparation many parents feel like they have to do whatever they are told just because they are in a hospital. Our strong resolve wavers as the doctor suggests, or initiates, something we had planned to avoid.
Many times interventions are necessary, but other times it happens because it is the easiest solution, not what is best for the situation. However, you have a right to be apart of the decision making. You can help decide the appropriate actions for your birth team to take. www.medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com provides a definition for Informed Consent: consent to medical procedures/treatment given by a patient after the potential risks, hazards, and benefits of the treatment have been explained.
This can look a few different ways:
– You have been pushing for hours, the doctor is concerned and suggests a cesarean. You ask if there is anything else you can try before consenting to the surgery. There seems to be no concern about trying the vacuum extractor. Your doctor explains both options and this seems to have less risks than surgery. With vacuum assistance you are able to deliver vaginally. You were given all information and able to avoid a cesarean by finding an alternative.
-Perhaps you find yourself in the same situation. You ask about the risks and benefits of continuing to push, but the doctor tells you that the heart rate has dropped too much and the baby needs to be delivered immediately. It may not have the result you hoped, but you were able to be sure that the risks outweighed the benefits of an alternative. You were part of the decision making.
Informed consent is important in for every decision big or small. Make sure you are part of the conversation. Ask about the risks. Ask about the benefits. Ask if there are any alternatives. It is your right to get easy to understand answers for the questions you have.
The feeling of “doctor knows best” can be very intimating. Having an objective voice or presence in the room can be imperative when gathering the information to give informed consent. Mothers and their partner are often exhausted and worried when decisions are needing to be made. Having a doula to remind you to ask the right questions and to sort through risk and benefits can be incredibly useful. Doulas cannot give medical advice, and will not speak to the doctor on behalf of you, but are advantageous when information needs to be gathered. Their objective and encouraging presence can help you feel strong in the resolve of your birth plan while keeping an open mind to changing circumstances.
You have rights in the hospital. You have the right to correct, comprehensive, & easy to understand information. Own that right and feel secure in your decision making.