Having a baby is an emotionally charged time. Women have so many hormonal and physical changes in their bodies it is difficult for you to make a balanced decision on the options for care during pregnancy birth and beyond. On top of this care providers can come to the table with their own history and may be making judgments based on statistics rather than people. So how do you get the care you are after?
Before you start to talk to your provider you will need to do your own research. Decide what is the right birth for you. This will include balanced reviews of pain relief options, family history and even anecdotal 'evidence' from stories you have heard (don't be afraid to request only positive stories during this vulnerable time of your life). Once you are clear on the type of birth you want be aware you may need to convince your care provider - for example public hospitals in Australia do not welcome elective c-sections and will request reasons for this. Some Obstetricians are skeptical of drug free labour and birth.
For each intervention you are offered you can ask these three questions :
1. IS THE BABY IN DANGER?
Establish the risks to your unborn baby. If the baby is not in danger then you query if the offer for intervention or offer for tests is necessary.
2. AM I IN DANGER?
If you are also in good health asking for the benefits and risks and risks of the proposed medical action into your pregnancy or birth is a must. It will allow you to asses the situation clearly and make a informed decision as to the best course of action.
3. WHAT IF WE DO NOTHING?
This is a great question if you are aiming for a drug free birth because if the answer is you can wait it out or have more time then you can avoid interventions that might unintentionally lead to more interventions. In a actively managed labour it may give your body time to adjust to the hormones it is producing and settle into labour more effectively before you need more assistance. In a Caesarean it may allow you to put off the due date and allow your baby's lungs more time to mature.
You can ask this about all treatment you are referred during pregnancy and even the most common tests. For example your 12 week scan. You can ask these questions to establish a base line. The consequences of doing nothing are a lack of ability to track babies growth and check for genetic abnormalities. You can then weigh these up against the risks - which are assessed to be very low on ultra sound. By getting in the habit of asking this questions you and your partner will be practiced and ready to use them during birth when the time for research and weighing up options will be limited.