Staying informed & in control

For many couples a positive birth experience is all about staying in control. In particular taking control with medical staff. It's not about being awkward or working against the medical team supporting you. It is about understanding your rights and choices, what you & your partner both want from the birth experience, and maintaining control. 

Not all women going into labour in a hospital setting are informed or prepared. More often they are scared and in pain, caused by the fear, tension and adrenaline. Medical staff are used to dealing with women in this panicked state and sometimes the preferences and emotional state of the woman giving birth can be overlooked.

Of course we are incredibly lucky to have access to the medical care available to us and, when necessary, medical intervention saves lives. It is however important to understand that some intervention may be offered purely as a routine procedure, not because it is essential. It might not be the right option for you and your partner.

But how are you and your partner supposed to know what is an essential procedure and what is just routine protocol? How can you question a doctor/midwife with years of medical training and experience?

The first question should always be:

"Is my baby or partner in danger?" 

If the answer is 'No' then you can ask for some time alone together, 30 mins or so, and then just see what happens. Sometimes being able to relax a little without anyone else there can be enough to get things moving along.

If the answer is 'Yes' or you keep being offered the same procedure then use your BRAIN. This is just a series of key factors to consider before making a decision.

Use your BRAINS

B - What are the benefits?

R - What are the risks?

A-  What are the alternatives?

I - What does your instinct tell you?

N - What happens if we do nothing? Is this a medical emergency?

S - Can we have some time and space to make an informed decision.

Click here for a printable version of BRAINS (ideal for your hospital bag).

Never be afraid to question the medical team. You are not questioning their knowledge or experience and it's important that you are making informed choices, rather than being pushed to make decisions that you don't feel sure about. It's not about refusing medical intervention for the sake of it, it's about making sure that you have all the information that you need to make the decision that is right for you, your partner and your baby.