You can choose to give birth at any facility you like, but be aware that your care provider will have a limited list of places he or she will go. You also have the right to choose to deliver your child at home, but again your care provider has the right not to attend (and your insurance may cover only certain facilities and providers). Discuss these options with your doctor or midwife in advance and find a provider who will go where you need him or her.
You have the right to insist that your baby remain in your hospital room with you ("rooming in"), but you might have to release the hospital from liability. You may also refuse to accept the hospital's feeding schedule for infants and feed your newborn on any schedule you prefer (such as "on demand"). You may refuse to allow some tests on your infant, but be aware that some are mandated by state law and cannot be refused (States commonly require tests for PKU, blindness and hearing problems. Check with your care provider for information on mandated tests in your state.) You have the right to leave the hospital with your baby at any time you choose.
You are truly in control of the medical care you receive -- it's your body after all! Don't be afraid to get the information you are entitled to and stick to the decisions that are right for you. Remember that presenting your questions and concerns in a respectful and non-threatening manner will lead your caregiver to respond in a thoughtful and helpful way.
For more information about maternal rights contact:
Maternity Center Association www.maternity.org or 212-777-5000
Alliance for the Improvement of Maternity Services www.aimsusa.org
Your state bar association (since laws vary in each state): check your local phone book
Treatments and Policies You May Choose to Opt Out of During Labor and Delivery:
Note: This article is intended as general information only and is not intended to serve as legal advice or as a substitute for legal counsel.
Brette McWhorter Sember is the author of "Your Practical Pregnancy Planner: Everything You Need to Know About the Financial and Legal Aspects of Preparing for Your New Baby" (McGraw-Hill, 2005) and "Your Plus-Size Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide for the Full-Figured Expectant Mom" (Barricade Books, 2005). She is the mother of two children. Her web sites are BretteSember.com and Your Plus Size Pregnancy.
Copyright © Brette Mcwhorter Sember. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.