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In Labour, Use Your Brain To Make Decisions!

Prenatal Education in Toronto by Doula Kim

Medical interventions in birth

During your labour you may find you are faced with many decisions, particularly around any medical procedures they wish to preform. Especially if things aren't necessarily going as planned or if baby has other plans for your labour. When this happens, it's important to ask as many questions as you can, so that you are able to make the best decisions possible for you and your baby. Here are 5 things you want to know in order to make those decisions.

What are the BENEFITS of this procedure? Now normally you will get that information. The care provider will usually say for example, "We want to break your waters to speed up your labour that seems to have slowed down." If they don't give you an explanation of why they want to do a particular procedure, then you definitely want to ask. Even if you trust your care provider completely, having this information about why they are preforming a particular procedure will be helpful after the birth, and understanding what took place. This will play a role, not only in your physical recovery but your mental recovery too.

What are ALL the RISKS of this procedure? I stress the word all because you don't want to just know, a couple of the risks, you want to know them all. Even if they are small and inconsequential, you still need to know them. Look, there were risks to getting out of bed in the morning, but you did it anyway. And if you are going to make fully, informed consent, you do need to know the major and minor risks. Plus, even if the care provider thinks the risk is minor, it may be major for you, and you need to be fully informed to make decisions that affect you and baby.

Are there any ALTERNATIVES to this procedure? Or, put another way, is there something that can be done instead of this procedure? Is there something that can be done before this procedure, where may be it becomes unnecessary? What are my options? Just because a medical intervention is suggested, doesn't mean it's the only option available to you. Knowing all the possible options can help you make a better decision, one that will reflect your wants and needs best.

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Trust your INTUITION. Trust your gut. Trust that thing inside you that either gives you a feeling of trust and safety, or a feeling of discomfort and unease. Our instincts are so critical in decision making it's crazy. But sadly we don't trust ourselves much any more. We usually look to others for the answers or the internet and social media. But if we are going to become parents, who love and will protect our children, we need to start trusting and expanding the use of our intuition so that we can feel confident and empowered in our decision making.

And finally, what happens if we do NOTHING? What if we don't do this procedure at all? What could happen? There may be a benefit to chosing nothing. But you need to know what the consequences are of chosing not to do the procedure. Or, do you NEED MORE TIME to think about your decision? I think asking for more time is a great way to calm things down.

During labour, when decisions need to be made, it can feel like you are under pressure to answer quickly, or that you have to make a split second decision. Hollywood convinced us of this. But in reality, true emergencies only happen in labour about 1-2% of the time. Unlike Hollywood, where it's 98% of the time. That means, there is time for questions, and there is time to make decisions. And if not, the care provider will tell you there is no time for time. Usually what will happen when you ask for some time, they will say, "sure, just let the nurse know when you've made a decision, and we'll come back." Then everyone leaves. During that time while everyone is gone, do not google, but take a deep breath and sit for a minute in the decision. Then think about what you need to know to make this decision and form those questions to ask your care provider. And keep asking for time if you need it to gather the information you need to make the best decision for you and your baby.

Do not be afraid to ask questions. And use your B.R.A.I.N to make decisions. See what I did there???

And let me be clear, you are not questioning your care provider, you are asking them questions so you can better make decisions. So you can be an active participant in your birth and feel empowered as part of the decision making team.

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