After you finish reading this post, please head on over to the sequel to get the full picture here. And remember, this (or any other blog) should not be taken as medical advice- it’s just my opinion. I know it should be common sense, but I’ve gotta post it anyway! Thanks!
If you are in a birthing situation and you find that your caregiver is about to do something you don’t want (e.g. an episiotomy, pulling out the forceps, putting pit in your IV, etc.), you may want to remember these four little words:
“I do not consent.”
Saying, “I’d really rather you not cut me,” or, “I don’t want a vacuum delivery if the baby is still ok,” or “Please don’t up the pit” may or may not work. However, if you say that you do not consent to a certain procedure, then the doctor or midwife cannot legally proceed wth it.
I only say this because I have heard many, many horror stories of women being on the receiving end of what in any situation other than a birth would be considered assault. Make sure you are absolutely clear with your intent and tell your caregiver if you do not consent to a procedure. I will say, however, that this phrase should probably not be taken lightly. Weigh your caregiver’s experience against your own intuition. Is your baby still ok? Are you still ok? Find out whether the caregiver is recommending a procedure out of medical necessity, or because of convenience or a hospital policy.
If nothing else, you can always say, “Wait. I do not consent yet.” Go on to ask these four questions:
1) Is this an emergency? (If no, move on.)
2) What are the benefits of this procedure?
3) What are the risks of this procedure?
4) What happens if we do nothing?
Remember that it is never, ever too late- even in the middle of labor- to change your caregiver or birth site. If a nurse is trying to do something you do not want, request a different one. If you are home with a midwife who has suddenly turned sour on you, it’s okay to leave and go to the hospital. If you are at the hospital and there is no acceptable caregiver, it is okay to leave the delivery room and drive to the next hospital. Again, these actions should be taken only with real cause, not at the drop of a hat.
Remember, it is YOUR birth. Yes, doctors and midwives are trained for birth. But sometimes procedures, liability issues, and yes, even sometimes the convenience of the caregiver can get in the way of letting your body do what it does best. You should always be treated with respect and dignity. Remember, with careful consideration, it is okay to utter those four words: “I do not consent.”