Childbirth is not a journey of straight line. It has curve balls and winding roads that may take you in a direction you never thought you’d head. You had plans and goals for one kind of birth, and then there you are, discussing with your caregiver a totally different scenario or option. Your intuition may tell you these suggestions and recommendations make sense, and you’re grateful for healthcare that provides options and choice to help move you along the winding road of labor.
Sometimes though, those curve balls and recommendations leave you unsure of how best to advocate for your birth process. A red flag or inner voice is telling you it doesn’t feel right, to ask more questions, seek more options, or just say no. Advocating for yourself during the throes of active labor is not easy. Loving partners often find it difficult to ask care givers to give them more time or to take a different action. Your contractions are coming every three minutes and the last thing you want to think about is a recommendation you weren’t ready for, and to be put in an adversarial position or confrontation.
Even the best of doulas have trouble being an advocate in a scenario where a doctor recommends something the parents feel strongly against. It is beyond a doula’s scope of practice to recommend medical procedures, so her role continues to be that of providing emotional and physical support, to nod, hold your hand, and help the family work through their choices and birth plan. What is certain in these moments though is that often managed care wins out over your one very unique birth process.
These three simple questions may help you.
They allow for direct and simple dialog that is non confrontational. Is mom alright? If the answer is “yes” – great, no urgency there. Is baby alright? Still yes? Excellent – no urgency there. Can we have more time? Again, if they say yes, the pressure is off and you have time to think and discuss privately.
Use this! Take the time to ask these questions. Doctors are just like you and me, we all get into a groove at work. But YOU are anything but routine. These simple questions provide an opportunity for everyone to pause and breath, and for the birthing couple – do so privately. Very likely what will be revealed is the true necessity of the recommendation: was it based upon a real emergency, opinion, routine, managed care, timing?
If you don’t take a childbirth class (and we really, really hope you do) at least bookmark and remember these questions! We happen to love our six-hour “Not Your Regular Old Childbirth Ed” class, a fast pace class for busy fast paced families. We take the time to go over advocacy and birth plans. Check us out, so that when your birth comes -you have a strong voice to navigate with when those curve balls come.