Informed Consent – permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.
While surveying a group of non birth worker friends informed consent was a BIG topic. Comments ranged from, “I wish I had known I could have said no”, “I didn’t like feeling like things were just being done to me”, “I wish I had known I could have asked questions”, to, “I didn’t even know where they had taken my child”
Whenever a medical procedure, drug, test, or other treatment is offered to you, you have the legal right to “informed consent.” This means that your doctor, midwife or nurse is responsible for explaining to you:
- why this type of care is being offered
- what it would involve
- the harms and benefits that are associated with this type of care
- alternatives to this care, and their respective harms and benefits, including the possibility of doing nothing at the present time (“watchful waiting”)
As a doula, I see so many excellent care providers, who very clearly explain what is going on, and why. And, sometimes I see people walk in and in the words of one person who answered my informal survey, “just do things”.
You have the right, and the responsibility to ask questions. You have the right to ask for a second opinion. You have the right to say no.
While it can feel overwhelming to speak up, and ask questions in the midst of labor, it is so important. Important for you and your baby’s physical well being, but, also for helping to achieve the birth you have planned.
Hiring a doula is an excellent way to help you along this path. As a doula, I am not allowed to speak for you. I am not allowed to tell you what to say. But, what I can do is make sure you understand what is happening. Remind you of your preferences. Ask you if you need things explained more clearly. I can help you ask for more time, and help you formulate the questions you want to ask.
Your birth is your journey, and the first of many as a parent, but, a doula can help be your guide through the process.