Friday, April 18, 2014

Know Your Birth Rights!

During labor and delivery, even prenatal visits, it can feel very procedure, it can make you feel like just another number.  You will have this, you must wear this, you can only do this.  By no fault of the doctors, it can feel like an object, not a person.  With pregnancy, there is so much to it that there is a procedure and it is followed by doctors and midwives because they must deal with so many women giving birth.  Because of the fact that doctors and midwives see so many women it is difficult for them to make it a personal experience fit to only you.  I stress, it is no fault of the doctor or midwife that this is how the system is, but it is.  With that being said, advocacy is a huge deal to me and being able to advocate for yourself during this special time is so important.  I find so many women just go along with things because they don’t know enough information to question.  It is because of this that I decided to start my blog in the first place.  In order to advocate for yourself you must understand your rights.  This goes for anything, but I am just going to discuss rights for women giving birth.

I want to start off by discussing consent.  Consent is an agreement between the patient and physician during any form of treatment.  You may have had to sign a few forms that allow treatment or something like this.  Women don’t always realize there are different types of consent.

Informed Consent-  This is probably one of the simplest concepts in medicine.  It means that the patient has the right to know what your are going to do before it is done, giving you the option to agree.  Everything must be explained and any questions you ask must be answered.  I have a girlfriend who just delivered her beautiful baby girl and when she went to the hospital they immediately started an IV, “just in case”.  They didn’t explain anything to her, why the IV was started or the benefits of it.  She didn’t know enough to question anything about it; but she didn’t end up needing the IV at all.  She has a huge fear of needles and was stuck for no reason.  As I said before, it is no fault of the doctor or midwife because it is simply procedure, but had she known all the details she could have refused.

Consent Forms- A consent form is usually given to you to sign at the time you check in at the hospital.  When they take your insurance information, you usually sign some paperwork, in this bunch of papers is the consent form.  Some don’t realize that you can do some creative editing to your consent form.  You have the right to read through and cross things out that you do not agree to and write in things that you would prefer to happen.

Emergency Consent- When you or your baby are in danger the doctor or midwife has the write to perform whatever medical procedure necessary without informing you.  Let’s not forget that it is the duty of the doctors and midwives to get the baby out safely.  For example, an emergency c-section.  If the reason you need an emergency c-section is fatal, there is no time for explanation and you have to trust that your physician knows what they are doing.

Along with agreeing to treatment, you have the right to disagree.
The Right To Refuse-  You reserve the right to refuse treatment if you feel the doctor or midwife is not doing you justice.  If you feel this way finding a second opinion is the best bet.  When I was 30 weeks pregnant, I had failed my gestational diabetes screening by 1 point, which was silly because in most states the cut off is 140, but where I am it is 130.  Because I was in a practice which had 15 doctors, it was impossible to meet everyone before my due date, the schedule just didn’t allow it, believe me, I tried.  At this prenatal appointment I ended up seeing someone who knew nothing about my history or the fact that I vomited my way through the 1 hour screening, which turned into 5 hours because I wasn’t able to hold it down and had to repeat it until I could hold it.  He was forcing me to get the 3 hour test done and fought with me about it.  I refused because I knew that I couldn’t keep the diet up even if I had GD because I had hyperemesis.  This is just one example of refusal.  Had I not had more knowledge about GD I would have tortured myself and literally made myself more sick by doing the test, when in my situations the risk outweighed the benefit.  Also something I don’t think most women realize is that you have the right to refuse certain doctors, midwives, or nurses.  If you are getting an IV done and you are not comfortable with the person doing it, you have the right to ask for someone else.

The Right To Change Your Mind- Some women have birth plans or decide early on they want the delivery to go a certain way.  You can absolutely change your mind.  If you think you may want to go all natural, no pain medication and then when you are in labor decide you can’t handle it you have the right to go against your birth plan or previous decision.  You can also change your mind if you consented to treatment that a doctor or midwife prescribes.  Nothing is set in stone, especially with labor and delivery.  There is no way to know what will happen.

It is so important to inform yourself so you know what is going on and why certain treatments are offered.  Being an advocate for yourself is the biggest part of a good experience.  Never be afraid to respectfully question something that is going on. You are in control of your experience.  This is just some general information and is in no way legal advice.  Stay informed to make your experience the best one possible.

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