Updated: Apr 11
(What exactly do *we mean by that and is it really a case of all or nothing?)
This is something I keep shouting from the roof tops “YOUR BODY, YOUR BABY, YOUR CHOICE” but what exactly do I (and many other birth workers/activists etc (*we)) mean by that? Well pretty much exactly that. ONLY YOU get to decide what happens to or what is done to your body or your baby!
Now, I am absolutely not saying to ignore your medical professional or health care provider, especially when there is a genuine medical reason. And it is absolutely not a case of either all (every single intervention that is offered) or nothing (no intervention or medical input regardless).
It is not quite as straightforward as that.
Everyone’s goal (most especially the mothers/birthing persons) is for a healthy baby, that goes without saying, but it is not the only important thing! How the mother/birthing person feels about the birth and what their recovery is like afterwards is also vitally important for the wellbeing (physically and mentally) of mother and baby.
“So how do we remain in control and achieve the birth that is right for us?” – you may ask!
Most importantly, YOU ASK QUESTIONS!!!
Often, interventions are offered because it is the hospitals/trusts policy rather than it being tailored to your individual circumstances.
This is always a good question to ask to find out, why is it being offered? (I write “offered” in bold because it should only ever, be an offer!)
If it is only being offered because of policy, then it may be that the risks of the intervention outweigh the benefits.
If it is being offered because of your individual circumstances, then it may be the benefits outweigh the risks.
In either case, you should be told the benefits AND risks of the intervention and the risks AND benefits of not doing it. Quite often the benefits of the intervention are given along with the risks of not doing it, however this is not balanced and does not provide you with the full information so you, therefore, cannot give informed consent.
If you are at all unsure about what is being offered, ask for time. Time to think about the information or time to see how it progresses on its own. Once you have all the information you need, you may decide it feels right to decline what was offered or you may feel that accepting the offer is right for you, either way you have made an informed decision and you should be supported in that decision. True medical emergencies are very rare, so for the vast majority, there is always time, whether that be weeks, days, hours or even 30 minutes!
Is there an alternative? There is ALWAYS more than one option. If you are not given an
alternative, again, you cannot give informed consent.
Quite often I hear women say “I was told - “you can’t do that”, “You have to do this”, “I am just going to do this”, “you’re not allowed to do that” etc” Phrases such as these should raise a red flag and so you ask questions, lots of them, you have a voice that you can use, you should be heard and your choices respected and if you don’t feel like you are being listened to then you can ask for someone else that is going to listen to you and respect your wishes. Coercion is not okay, however kind it may sound!
Don’t be afraid to ask your health care provider as many questions as you like so you feel you have enough information to make an informed decision for what is right for you and your baby!
Do your research!
Arm yourself with knowledge to empower yourself. Read the books or even better, do a complete 12-hour Hypnobirthing course with me, Emily Sheppard (or of course someone else – there are always different options), that covers what you need to know about labour and birth and how to help you achieve the relaxed, empowered and positive birth that is right for you! You can find out more and book with me here: https://www.hypnobirthinghaven.co.uk/course-info-prices
Talk with your birth partner about your preferences so they are able to advocate for you, maybe even think about hiring a birth Doula who can support and advocate for you through pregnancy and the birth of your baby. I am a mentored Doula for my local area (Lancaster & South Lakes) among a couple of others, or you can take a look here to find one in your area: https://doula.org.uk/find-a-doula/
Take responsibility for your birth – Your body, your baby, your choice!!!
Trust your instincts and listen to your intuition – you’ve this!!!