Here’s my tips on how to advocate for yourself in the birth room. Some couples worry about how to speak up when they’re at hospital. It can be challenging if you’re not naturally a confident or assertive person and you’re faced with a medical professional. Follow these easy steps and you’ll feel much more confident.
1. Know your stuff. If you do your research, and you’ve put a birth plan in place, you’re more likely to feel confident to decline a procedure or intervention because you’re making an educated and informed decision. If your choice is based on research, it makes your choice rational and based on fact. Having a birth plan on paper to refer to can also give you confidence as well as something to remind you of what choices you made and why. Just remember that you can change your mind at any point.
2. Get support from your birth partner. If you have a birth partner present, use them. It could be your mum, your husband, your wife or girlfriend, your best friend or your doula. Whoever it is, make sure you’ve run through your birth plan and your preferences before the birth, and allow them to advocate on your behalf so you can focus on giving birth!
3. Try asking questions such as “Can you explain more about...” or “what are the benefits of this procedure?” or “what happens if we don’t do anything and we just wait?”. Use your BRAINS acronym to logically think through what’s being suggested and ask any questions you have. You have the right to know the facts before making any decision which impacts the health of you and your baby. Asking questions can be easier and feel less confrontational than demands or flat out refusal if you don’t feel confident in doing so straight away.
4. Practice! Role play with your birth partner, advocating for yourself and baby in different situations. It’ll give you the confidence to do it for real when the time comes, and it will help consolidate and reinforce any knowledge you’ve gained about important aspects of your birth plan that you feel particularly strongly about.
Remember, this is the beginning of your journey to parenthood, and you are your child’s advocate from birth and beyond, so speak up if you want to know more about something or feel strongly about a procedure or option being presented.