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The Melanie Rose Birth Blog

Navigating Informed Consent: A People-Pleaser's Guide to Childbirth

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and nothing in this birth blog should be taken as medical advice. This blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only.

Hey there, birthing folks! Today, let's talk about a topic near and dear to my heart: informed consent in childbirth. As a certified doula and childbirth educator, I know that informed consent is crucial for empowering pregnant people to make decisions that align with their preferences and values. But what happens when you're a notorious people-pleaser? Buckle up, fellow peacekeepers, because we're diving into the wonderful world of balancing your sweet, accommodating nature with advocating for yourself in birth.

A pregnant woman looks at a medical chart with a doctor.

But first, let’s define Informed Consent and talk about how to give informed consent. Informed consent is the conversation you have with your healthcare providers in which you give the OK for them to perform certain medical procedures and interventions… but only once you have been given all the information you need to know in order to decide whether their suggestion sits right with you.

An easy way to remember how to gather information in order to give informed consent is to use your B.R.A.I.N.S.

B: What are the BENEFITS to me and my baby?

R: What are the RISKS to me and my baby?

A: What are the ALTERNATIVES?

I: What is my INTUITION telling me? (It’s more powerful than you think!)

N: What happens if we do NOTHING?

S: I need SPACE and time to think.

Now that you know what informed consent is and how to properly give informed consent, picture this: You're at your healthcare provider’s office, discussing your birth plan. Your provider starts throwing around terms like "epidural," "induction," and "cesarean section." Meanwhile, you're nodding along and smiling politely, but secretly panicking inside because, nope. It’s not what you wanted in your birth plan, and you really wish you could at least muster up the courage to ask about things like statistics and alternatives that you could consider. Also imagine: you may and very well will be faced with this scenario in the middle of your actual birth.

Sound familiar? If you're a people-pleaser like I’ve been and am desperately trying to shake from my personality, you've probably found yourself in similar situations, eager to agree with whatever the "experts" suggest to avoid rocking the boat. But hey, fear not! We're in this together, and there's a light at the end of the birth canal. I mean, tunnel!

Let's break it down: Informed consent isn't just a fancy term that doulas and other birthworkers throw around to sound official. It's your ticket to taking control of your birth experience. Think of it as your superhero cape, empowering you to ask questions, voice concerns, and make decisions that feel right for you and your baby.

But here's the kicker: for us people-pleasers, asserting our preferences can feel about as comfortable as trying to squeeze your foot into a drinking straw. We worry about disappointing others, being labeled as difficult, or worse, being seen as ungrateful for the care we're receiving. But giving birth - growing and welcoming a whole new person into your life and heart - is bigger than all of that.

So, how do we navigate the treacherous waters of informed consent without triggering a tidal wave of guilt and anxiety? Here are a few tips to keep in your back pocket:

  • Arm Yourself with Knowledge: I say it all the time, knowledge is power. Take the time to educate yourself about the birthing process, common interventions, and your options. The more you know, the more confident you'll feel advocating for your wishes. A good private, out-of-hospital childbirth education course can help you there!

  • Practice Assertiveness: Repeat after me: "No" is a complete sentence. If your answer to a question or to a proposition is “no,” say… “No.” Practice asserting your boundaries in everyday situations, whether it's politely declining going out with friends if you didn't want to or speaking up when a restaurant server brings you the wrong order. And I’m not saying be a you-know-what! You can totally be assertive while also being kind and polite. Flexing those assertiveness muscles will make advocating for yourself in the delivery room feel like a walk in the park.

  • Enlist Your Support Squad: Surround yourself with cheerleaders who have your back. Whether it's your partner, best friend who's mastered the art of tough love, parent, or other family member, having a support system in place can make all the difference when it comes to standing up for yourself. Hiring a doula good and early is an amazing way to add a support person - a doula doesn’t only assist you during your birth; they are with you from the moment they are hired, conducting prenatal appointments, allowing for constant contact through text and email, helping you craft a birth plan that reinforces the need for informed consent, and more!

  • Remember: You're the Boss. It's YOUR birth, YOUR body, YOUR baby. Your care providers are there to support you, not dictate your every move. Don't be afraid to speak up, ask questions, and assert your preferences. You've got this!

In conclusion: People-pleasers of the world... I know. I know. Your compassionate nature is a gift, but it's essential to remember that your needs and desires are just as important as those of the people around you. You're allowed to have preferences, and you have just as much of a right to exist and take up space as everyone else. Embrace the power of informed consent, and watch as you transform from a timid pleaser into a confident advocate for yourself and your little one. Birth may be unpredictable, but with a dash of knowledge, a sprinkle of assertiveness, and a whole lot of support, you've got everything you need to rock this birthing journey. You've got this!

Stay tuned for a new blog post coming soon in which I tell the story of how I used my B.R.A.I.N.S. during the birth of my second child! I was not yet a birthworker and I had no idea the power I held and utilized. If I could do it, you can do it!

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