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Informed Consent and Decision Making for Pregnancy and Birth


Informed Consent is more than just a paper to sign

Informed consent and decision making


Informed consent can make or break your birth experience! I have said the phrase, "I wish I would have known." so many times after my first baby. No matter how your birth turns out, being informed and making decisions that are best for you and your baby can make the experience amazing!


Do you have a provider yet? If so, do you feel like your provider knows you and what you want out of your birth experience? Do you feel like he/she understands your birth wishes and has similar beliefs as you about the birth process?

Or maybe you haven’t chosen a provider yet or are unsure of how to choose on. Either way, please read until the end I’m going to give you a free download to take to your appointment of 15 questions to ask your provider!


First let me take you through a scenario.


Your friend told you about this super awesome doctor! She has had him before and he is so personable, listens and seems to really be on board with your plan! You’re planning to birth vaginally and you may or may not get an epidural. You’ll see how it goes. This is your first pregnancy and you’re not really sure what to expect but you do know that you want to trust your body as much as you can and if anything goes wrong you trust your doctor to take care of you and the baby. You get to 38 weeks and things are going well. He walks in and suggests an ultrasound to check on baby. Of course you would love to see your baby. You get the ultrasound and after your doctor brings you the news that your fluid is low! “Oh no!” You think… “This can’t be good.” Your doctor then says it was low and I think what is best is to take the baby by c-section. I’ll let the receptionist know and you can schedule for the morning. Wait what? How is this happening? This wasn’t your plan at all! You wanted to experience labor… you wanted to birth vaginally! You don’t want to have a c-section. You reluctantly schedule.

After the surgery you just feel like you missed out on something. You want to know why you feel the way you do. Your baby is healthy.. You should be happy. Why don’t you feel it? 

This is the feeling you get when decisions were made for you instead of you having informed consent and making the final decision. Have you felt this before? I did! And I have spoken with many women who have experienced that same feeling of disappointment. But why?


In the scenario I just took you through there was no informed consent. Did you see that? Let me point them out to you:

  • Why did you need an ultrasound at 38 weeks? What were they wanting to look for specifically? He didn’t ask permission to do one he just said that you were going to. 

  • What did it mean that your fluid was low? What was the specific measurement? Was there any alternatives to a c-section? What was the benefit of delivering early? Did he ask if scheduling a c-section was ok with you?

  • Did he go over the risk of having a c-section? What was the risks and benefits of delivering at 38 weeks? Did he tell you about placenta accreta in future pregnancies or the increase of maternal complications post surgery? 

There was so much missing information! It is impossible to make an informed decision for you and your baby unless you have all of that information! Do you think that if you would have asked these questions you would have felt better after the c-section? Why is that? Maybe because you would have been the one making the final decision. Not your provider.

 

Did you know that no matter the outcome of you birth you can feel empowered. The feeling of being proud of your birth comes when you are fully informed and have a provider who listens to what you desire. How do you find a provider that is on the same page? How do you avoid choosing someone that may not be on the same page but agrees with you in the beginning?


Sometimes mama, you don’t know until later that your provider might not be on the same page. This is a good time to remind yourself that birth matters and if your provider seems to be suggesting things that don’t go along with your beliefs about birth then you can find another one. It’s only too late to switch providers after baby is born! 


A helpful acronym when it comes to decision making during pregnancy, labor and delivery is BRAIN.

  • B- Benefits

  • R- Risks

  • A- Alternatives

  • I- Intuition

  • N- Nothing 

Do you think that you would have felt better about this scenario if you would have used this tool? These questions help you gather informed consent. If your provider isn’t willing to go through each of these with you when talking about an intervention that is a huge red flag. Education and informed consent is the key to getting a blissful birth. 


I have been with many mamas who had a plan for a natural birth and then decided during labor that they wanted an epidural but guess what! They still felt empowered! They knew the risks, benefits and alternatives. They didn’t feel manipulated or coerced into getting an epidural. They were the one to make the decision and you know what…. That is great!! It is my mission to help you feel powerful about your birth experience. No matter what happens. You call the shots! 


Was this helpful? Are you ready for those questions to ask your provider? You need to know if they are on the same page as you! Know what you want from your birth… ask yourself these questions and then see if your provider has the same answers as you! Who you hire to attend your birth matters. 


Did you have informed consent during your birth? How did having it or NOT having it affect you? The more we talk about this the more women will start demanding informed consent! 

So are you ready for your 15 questions to ask? Go to bit.ly/15providerquestions I’ll send you the download straight to your email so you can have it handy for your next prenatal appointment! 


Remember mama, you are strong, your body was made to birth, the contractions aren’t stronger than you because they are you! Speak life over yourself, your baby and your birth experience because it matters! 

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