Informed Consent in Pregnancy & Birth

Informed consent: that is a buzz-phrase for many pregnant families as they get ready to give birth. A lot of times we put all of the responsibility on the care provider or doctor to tell us the risks and benefits of a procedure, and then blame them if things don't go our way. But it is important to realize that informed consent is truly a two way street.

While of course doctors and nurses have a responsibility to their patient to make sure to explain procedures ahead of time, we also have a responsibility to speak up for ourselves if all of our questions and concerns aren't thoroughly answered and addressed. This can be tricky in labor, but facilitating this conversation is one of the roles a doula will play in pregnancy and in the delivery room. Not speaking for you, but making sure that you have an opportunity to speak up if you need to.

Here are some tools for you to use to help frame that conversation:

  • Write a birth plan and be sure to share it with your healthcare team ahead of time
  • Use the B.R.A.I.N. acronym to make sure that you have all of the information you need
  • Practice saying, "Can we have a minute to talk about that privately before deciding?"
  • Hire a doula to help you create space to ask questions and get answers

Informed consent starts with taking the time to educate yourself, asking questions, and making sure that you feel comfortable with the way that information is shared and decisions made in your pregnancy and birth. By doing these things, you can become as much of an active participant in your and your baby's healthcare as you desire to be!