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What is Informed Consent?

admin August 28, 2012

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This month’s theme is “Informed Consent.”  It’s important to start with this because we’ll often be talking about alternative ways to handle pregnancy and birth, and we don’t want you to just take our word for it!

But, we don’t want you to just listen to your doctor, either. Every woman has the right to make the decisions that are right for her when it comes to pregnancy and birth.  Every woman’s situation is a little bit different, and the choices she makes will fit her needs.

Right now, we have a lot of “one size fits all” approach going on.  There’s quite a lot of that in the hospital, where patients are given instructions, guidelines, and time lines on which they “must” birth, or face interventions.  There’s a little bit of that going on in alternative circles, too, from a few people who insist that women should *never* birth in a hospital or use pain medication!

We’re not here to do any of that.  We’re here to explain all the options that are out there and empower you to choose what works best for you.  Which is why informed consent is so important.

What is Informed Consent?

Informed consent means that you’re fully aware of:

  • The situation/diagnosis
  • The treatment options (alternative included)
  • The risks and benefits of each treatment option
  • The risks and benefits of no treatment

And with this information, you are allowed to choose for yourself.  Doctors are legally required to provide informed consent (as are midwives and other medical professionals), although they don’t always do it. The reason this is such a big deal is because we believe that women are intelligent and capable of making their own decisions when it comes to pregnancy and birth.

We intend to provide information, but we’re not (mostly) medical professionals, and none of us are your medical professional, and we aren’t trying to tell you what to do.  Always take the information here as just that — information — and use it to continue your research, bring to share with your doctor or midwife, and so on.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to several different types of providers, situations, and ways to advocate for yourself as a patient.  It’s important.  It’s necessary.  It’s sadly, not well known. We’d like to change that.

How Does This Affect Me?

Informed consent is related to areas like:

  • Choosing your care provider (doctor or midwife)
  • Choosing your birth location (home, birth center, or hospital)
  • Choosing to agree to routine tests during pregnancy (or not), like Group B Strep, gestational diabetes, etc.
  • Choosing to induce labor (or not)
  • Choosing pain relief in labor (or not)
  • Choosing ultrasounds/fetal monitoring
  • Accepting Pitocin, vacuum extraction, forceps, and other birth interventions
  • What “type” of birth you have (water birth, for example)
  • Newborn procedures
  • and more

All of these things, barring any emergency situation, are your choice.  You do not have to submit to anything because it is “procedure” to do so.  You do not have to consent to a routine IV and continuous fetal monitoring in labor.  You do not have to have internal exams at your initial OB appointment and in the last few weeks before delivery.  You do not have to schedule an induction simply because you have reached your due date.  All of these are choices that you should make based on your personal circumstances, in conjunction with your care provider.  Do not accept “because that’s the way it is” as a reason.  It isn’t one.  Ask for evidence-based care!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be talking about most of these areas more in depth, and as the months go on we’ll get to more and more areas of information, so that you have the facts when you’re deciding what is right for you, and your baby.

Do you know about informed consent?  Have you exercised your right to choose?

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5 Comments

  1. I am so interested in this. I had to have an emergency c-section with my first and my OB does not do VBACs, so I will need to look for a new one (hopefully soon!). I can’t wait to read your tips!

    Reply

  2. I am pregnant with baby number three and although I was aware of informed consent, I was not FULLY aware of my options. I had an all-natural birth without drugs while delivering my first two children. With this baby, everything is different because I KNOW more now than I ever have!

    I am a little confused on the Group B Strep issue. How often are newborns affected by this? If I choose to have the antibiotics, what can I do to make sure my newborn is not adversely affected?

    Also, things like letting the cord stop pulsating before cutting. What is the benefit in that? It’s not that I don’t think these things are important, it’s just that truly do not know.

    Anyway, I am REALLY looking forward to your future posts, this website is a Godsend for me.

    Thank you!

    Reply

  3. […] Modern Alternative Pregnancy launched on Monday! Here is my favorite post from their launch week: What Is Informed Consent? […]

    Reply

  4. […] Modern Alternative Pregnancy launched on Monday! Here is my favorite post from their launch week: What Is Informed Consent? […]

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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