“I believe in the power of accurate information to help women make the wisest choices for themselves.”
– Judy Norsigian, co-founder and co-author of Our Bodies, Ourselves
You have reached a point in your pregnancy where you are probably facing some decisions. It’s important to remember that you always have a choice. You can participate in the awesome responsibility of decision making for your care during pregnancy, labour, birth and for your baby, or allow routines and standards to determine your care. It’s easy to assume that “the done thing” must be “what’s best.” There must be a good reason why so many doctors require routine ultrasounds during pregnancy…why so many labours are induced…why women with a previous caesarean surgery must have another caesarean. It’s for the safety of the baby, right? Not necessarily.
It’s easy to forget that just a few decades ago; hospitals routinely used practices that we know now are useless or even harmful. For example, they banned partners from delivery rooms; they separated babies from mothers immediately after birth; and doctors held newborns upside down by their feet and smacked their little bottoms. These practices ended because women asked questions and demanded change. Unfortunately, there are other ineffective and harmful practices that persist today.
As a pregnant woman, you have a wonderful opportunity before you to work with your care provider to create a plan that is right for you. You know yourself better than anyone. You know your individual circumstances, values and desires. You can weigh the benefits and risks of any course of action while taking into account your personal situation, your beliefs and gut instincts, and the advice and opinions of trusted sources.
Deciding what’s right for you and your baby often means asking questions respectfully, such as:
- What is the reason for this procedure?
- How do you do it?
- What are the possible benefits?
- What are the possible risks?
- How effective is this procedure?
- Can I rely on the results of this test or will I need more tests to confirm the findings?
- What are my other options?
- Does my current caregiver offer those alternatives or will I need to find another care provider?
- Will my caregiver support my choice? If not, would I consider switching care providers?
Fortunately, at this early stage of your pregnancy, there is usually plenty of time to make informed choices. Unless something truly is urgent, you can ask for a few minutes, hours or even days to make a decision. Your caregiver should give you the privacy to think it over without feeling pressured.
Communicate openly with your care provider, respect one another and share information. If you need more information, or more time to make a decision, say so. You will get the best care when you and your care provider are equal partners. All of this is easier when you and your care provider share a common philosophy of pregnancy and birth.
Adapted from The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence.
Some great reading:
Get involved! Be a part of Australia’s Maternity Coalition – a national consumer advocacy organisation committed to the advancement of best-practice maternity care for all Australian women and their families.
Decide what prenatal testing you need and what you don’t. Read Testing 1, 2, 3
Join Henci Goer, internationally renowned expert in maternity care research, and get answers to your questions about safe, healthy birth.
Learn more about informed decision making.
Weekly Birth Inspiration
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers. Strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” – Barbara Katz Rothman
I feel confident; I feel safe; I feel secure.
About Tanya Strusberg
Tanya Strusberg is the only Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in Australia and teaches prenatal education to pregnant women and their partners in Melbourne.
She and her husband Doron have two beautiful children, Liev and Amalia.
To learn more visit www.birthwellbirthright.com
About Katrina Zaslavsky
Katrina Zaslavsky is the passionate founder of Birth Goddess, author of A Modern Woman’s Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth (featured nationally, paperback available in bookstores Australia-wide, direct via http://shop.inspiringbirthstories.com.au/shop-online/ or as a kindle e-book on Amazon) birth columnist, speaker and committee member for Natural Parenting Melbourne. Her calling is to awaken people to live a more conscious, natural lifestyle and especially to empower women to discover their inner birth goddess!
Profoundly impacted by her own personal journey into motherhood, Katrina provides an empowering birth community, resources, workshops and products including her book, Birth Goddess Cards and the newly launched Empowering Birth Magazine to support women to give birth the way nature intended- fear free, drug free and even pain free!
Join the empowering birth community: https://www.facebook.com/KatBirthGoddess
Browse the blog: http://www.birthgoddess.com.au/