The focus of my doula business is to help birthing families know what their options are.
For this reason I’ve decided to write a series of posts about how to make informed decisions and what different options there are.
There was a study done in the 60s and 70s to evaluate the factors that influenced a woman’s level of satisfaction in her childbirth experience. In the study, women rated their level of satisfaction, filled out a questionnaire, and related their childbirth experience. Then 15 to 20 years later the researchers followed up with these same women. What they found was that women remembered the details of their childbirth experiences very vividly and felt the same emotional intensity several years later. The research showed that the thing that made the difference in the level of satisfaction was whether a woman felt like she had a say in the care she received. Women who had a say in the decision making process reported to have the highest level of satisfaction in her childbirth experience. This is one reason why I believe women need to feel empowered and supported in making informed decisions for their care.
The first thing I would like to talk about is making decisions about your care. This formula is not just for pregnancy and birth. It can be applied to any situation where medical decisions need to be made. Think of the acronym “BRAIN”.
- B – Benefits?
- R – Risks?
- A – Alternatives?
- I – Intuition? (How do I feel about this?) Prayer.
- N – Not now, but wait?
Take time to discuss. Ask your care provider and/or nurse to give you a moment to discuss your options. Very rarely do decisions need to be made so quickly that you do not have time to ask questions and discuss it privately. In the event of a time sensitive
emergency ask for 1 minute alone to discuss it, if a minute is too long, ask for 30 seconds. In a situation before the birth, you can get a second opinion. If you aren’t comfortable with what your care provider is telling you, you can change care providers. Don’t be afraid to fire your care provider. They work for you and you can find another one who you are more comfortable with and will honor your wishes. During your birth you can ask for another nurse, if you don’t feel supported by the one assigned to you.
More in depth questions you can ask your care provider:
As you ask questions about your care, you will become a responsible consumer and will gain greater satisfaction in your childbirth experience.
When a test is suggested:
- Why should I have the test? What problem are we looking for?
- What will the test tell us? How accurate are the results?
- What are the risks/side-effects of the test?
- If the test detects a problem, what will happen next?
- What is the cost of the test?
When a treatment or intervention is suggested:
- What is the problem? Why is it a problem? How serious is it? How urgent is it that we begin treatment?
- Describe the treatment: How is it done? How likely is it to detect or solve the problem?
- If it does not succeed, what are the next steps?
- What are the risks or side-effects to the treatment?
- Are there any alternatives (including waiting or doing nothing?)
- Ask questions b,c, and d about any alternatives.
- What is the cost?
–adapted by Kristi F. Ridd (originated by Penny Simkin)
Coming up we’ll talk about choosing a care provider, the pros and cons of different care providers, choosing a birth place, and a doula.
Photos take by opiefoto at the birth of my 3rd child.