Even if you are not a first time mom, the medical process of the typical hospital birth can be overwhelming, creating uncertainty about what is necessary, what you have a choice about, and what is right for you. The birth experience is fast-moving and filled with intense emotions. Mothers normally place their trust and faith in their providers, which can be comforting, but it's important that every woman go into the birth process knowing the facts around common medical interventions so that she can be her own informed advocate. She should know the risks, the benefits, and the chain of events that can be set into motion as one intervention can lead to another.
Some tips for making sure you receive the care that's right for you and your baby:
1. Do Your Research
Educate yourself on the risks and benefits of the most common medical interventions during childbirth: labor induction, episiotomy, epidurals and C-section births. You can find a wealth of info in pregnancy guidebooks, on pregnancy-oriented websites and on medically-oriented websites like the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Publications. Look for the average rates of each of the procedures, when each if the procures is indicated and why, the risks associated with each of the procures and alternatives to the procedures.
2. Ask Questions
Be sure to ask your doctor his or her average rate for the aforementioned procedures and when he or she believes each of the procedures is indicated. Discuss any questions or concerns you may have about each of the procedures after you have done your research.
A new survey conducted by Childbirth Connection, a nonprofit organization dedicated to evidence-based maternity care, took a close look at the medical procedures implemented in 2400 hospital births in 2011 and 2012. The survey showed that women are often unaware of the risks associated with the most common medical interventions and do not question their healthcare providers when they are told that interventions are indicated. In fact, many of the participants in the survey indicated desiring a different sort of medical care than they received and refraining from questioning their providers for fear of being perceived as difficult. Remember: when it comes your care (and baby's!) you are never being too difficult.
3. Make a Birth Plan
After you have educated yourself and discussed all options with your doctor, decide what kind of birth experience you want to have. Discuss each point of your birth plan with your healthcare provider to be sure your wishes will be supported. Ask under which circumstances each of the points would not be possible and find out the alternatives to your choices. If you have strong beliefs for wanting to avoid particular procedures or for wanting to be allowed to have skin to skin contact and to breastfeed immediately after birth, it should go in your birth plan.
The lesson here: Be your own advocate. Educate yourself on the risks and benefits of labor induction, episiotomy, epidurals and C-section births. Ask your doctor how often he performs these procedures and under what circumstances. Formulate a birth plan and discuss it with your doctor. Knowledge is power; knowing the facts can help you make informed decisions and reduce your risks during childbirth and help to ensure you have the most fulling and safe birth experience possible.
Was there anything you did before birth that helped you? Share it with us!