Consent is something that many people in society now talk about when speaking in the sexual sense but consent has so many facets and doesn’t just relate to having autonomy over your body as it relates to sex. It is also important to remember that you have autonomy over what happens to your body while your are pregnant, in labor/giving birth and postpartum. You can always ask questions to your provider if you need clarification or if your intuition tells you something isn’t sitting well. You have choices and ultimately all decisions are up to you!
In my childbirth education classes that I teach, I always discuss “using your BRAIN”. The word BRAIN when used in that sense is an acronym meaning:
B – Benefits
R – Risks
A – Alternatives
I – Intent
N – Not now and maybe Never
When being told by a provider to do something during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum it’s ok to ask questions and use your BRAIN. Ask your provider what are the benefits and risks of what they are recommending? Are there any alternative things that could yield the same result? Why is it that the provider wants you to do “said thing” (meaning why are they recommending it) and remember that you can always say not now or never. You have choices! I can’t Express this enough!
You decide what happens to your body. Everything from vaginal checks, inductions, medications and medical procedures for you and baby, testing, etc… is YOUR choice. No one has the right to do anything to your body without your consent and unless it is an emergent situation there is always time to talk about options. You have a voice and it deserves to be heard.
The tips that I have for you are:
– Education is KEY! You must be educated on your options if you are to make informed decisions. A childbirth education class and a doula can really help educate you on your options and provide evidence based research! Others opinions are great but when making informed decisions its important to know facts.
– If you have a partner, make sure they are aware of your wishes so they can advocate for you if you are unable to. Also, if you have anyone else present at your birth (i.e. a doula, family members, friends) make sure they all know your wishes too!
– Have many conversations with your providers and have them document your chart so that the practice and providers are aware of your wishes too!
– Design a birth plan. Make it less than a page, bulleted and straight to the point. Even though you may deviate from your birth plan it’s still important that the nursing staff also know what your wishes for your ideal birth experience are so that they are able to assist you in achieving those as long as its medically safe to do so.
In closing, please know that your body is just that…it’s YOURS. You have more power over your pregnancy, birth experience and postpartum period than you may believe!
If you feel you may need help understanding your choices, we would love to help educate and guide you as well as help advocate for you and your baby!