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Childbirth - Know your medical rights

Updated on August 3, 2012
Daughter Rhoswen minutes after all natural birth.
Daughter Rhoswen minutes after all natural birth. | Source

For the sake of you and your family..

Being in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I've decided to put out some more information that's near and dear to my heart. Medical rights during labor and childbirth.

You have the right to make medical decisions free from coercion and
undue influence from anyone. You have the right to be fully informed before making a decision, including a diagnosis, recommended treatment and alternative treatment, the risks, benefits, discomforts and potential disabilities of those
treatments, realistic expectation of outcomes, a second opinion and any
financial or research interests a birth attendant might have in proposing
certain treatments.

I believe that with my whole heart. Now what does this mean for you and your baby? It is your job to gather information and inform your healthcare provider of your choices. Before you jump ahead of yourself though, gather the policy information on the hospital and your provider. So you can see whats the normal standard of operation.

You can refuse treatment! Woah, what? Yes, like I said previously, you have the right to make medical decisions free from influence. Now that doesn't mean making uninformed choices. Do your research and know what you want out of your childbirth. Have your birth plan set out, and give copies to the staff and your loved ones so they know what you expect during your birth.

Natural birth.. I am a big advocate of natural birth. Meaning without medical intervention or assistance of pain medication or invasive measures. Now how does this affect you? Well really it doesn't. However to give you an idea, I'm going to list the "treatments" that I will be refusing.

Episiotomy - " A surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid delivery and prevent rupture of tissues." Believe it or not, you were meant to stretch. Some women do have tearing during delivery and some have next to none. The episiotomy is meant to help control the tearing, but mostly doctors have shied away from this technique. Be sure to ask your doctors if this is a normal procedure for them.

Labor Induction - "A method of artificially or prematurely stimulating childbirth in a woman." Yes, you can refuse this. I was induced with my first child, and it almost ended up in an emergency c-section because labor did not progress. I was manually dialated from 0-3 cm, and still didn't progress for several hours. Now, with induction there are pros and cons. But find out your practitioners reasoning to induce you. My current doctor wants to induce me because I'm expecting a 10 pound baby this time, not a good enough reason for me. Especially since the cons heavily outweigh the pros in this situation.

Caesarean Section - "The delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus." Yes, you can refuse a c-section. Most doctors should want this preformed only as a last resort. However, c-sections are becoming more commonplace as the years pass. Be sure to check your hospitals policy and your doctors policy to see their stance on c-sections. It may surprise you.

Can my doctor refuse to treat me? Yes and no. If you are within 30 days of giving birth they cannot terminate your care unless you have successfully transferred to a different provider. The doctors must give you a 30 day written notice as well as a list of referrals in order for you to find a new provider. Outside of that, they can be charged for patient abandonment and face malpractice suits.

Overall the more you know... The key is information. Gather as much as you can for your birth plan. Make sure you have the support of your close family and friends and inform them of your decisions. You have every right to make this childbirth your own. Inform the doctors and staff at the hospital of what you want and expect, and your reasons. Make sure your labor coach will stand by your decisions and fight for your rights with you.

Good luck to all other women out there in the final countdown. May your childbirth experience be everything you want it to be.

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