by Julie Snyder
Have you read any of these recent headlines about birthing, midwifery and childbirth coverage?
"The South Australian Deputy Coroner release recommendations regarding midwifery and home birth."
"In Indiana, a former OB-nurse-turned-midwife was arrested on charges of practicing midwifery without a license."
"If your pregnancy care and birth is covered by Medicaid, your options may be limited to hospital birth only."
If a pregnancy doesn't have any pre-determined restrictions or complications, a woman has the right to choose where she can give birth and how. They can also speak up and request to limit interventions and refuse treatments.
When you arrive at the hospital or birthing center, you're liable to hear the following phrases from the staff: "Sign this..." "Wear this..." "Lay here while we get a base-line printout," and "Hold still while I put in an IV."
It's no surprise that many parents don't realize they can be in charge of their baby's birth experience. They can choose the way the labor and birth goes and their baby's care after birth.
"You're paying the doctor's, nurse's and other staff's salaries, and you deserve to get what you want," says Pregnancy.org expert Kerry Tuschhoff, HCHI, CHt. "If there are true complications, that's when the doctor, midwife or nurses step in and help. Just like being a lifeguard at a pool, no one needs to do anything except keep a watchful eye on things. If anyone's in trouble, that's when they jump in to help."
Expectant mothers have the right to control their medical care and choose to refuse or accept procedures based on solid information. Knowing your birthing rights allows you to feel more in charge of your birth and empowers you to insist on getting the information you need to make important decisions.
Pregnant moms are the decision makers. Healthcare providers can be liable if they fail to obtain sufficiently informed consent.
Informed consent is when you're given the space to make an informed decision. It also means your're free from coercion and outside pressures. It means giving moms facts about interventions and the risks and benefits of the procedures.
Any diagnosis should be fully explained to you. You should also be told of any alternatives for treatment, what could happen with each alternative, including not opting for any treatment at all.
The person explaining the procedure should be familiar with you and your situation. They should use language you can understand.
Many national and international organizations promote the patient's right to informed consent and refusal, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Informed consent forms: If you give birth at a hospital or birthing facility, you'll be asked to sign a consent form. Read the form carefully. You can cross things off or add things to it.
You have the right to refuse any treatment. You can make decisions about birth settings, care providers, medical interventions, tests and drugs for yourself and baby. Even though your rights extend to being able to get up and leave the hospital or birthing center at any time, we don't recommend making that decision. You could put you and your baby's health at risk.
Your legal right to informed consent and refusal means that your treatment in the hospital is your decision. Some hospitals may say that their procedures are non-negotiable. Legally, they are negotiable according to the American Hospital Association's "Patient's Bill of Rights." To avoid conflict, check out all the policies and procedures as you're choosing a provider and birthplace.
Even if you sign a "Consent to Treatment" form on admission, you can change your mind at any time by making your wishes known to your caregivers.