When I became pregnant with my first child, I thought I knew what I needed to know. I read all the books and talked to all the moms…but one thing I didn’t know, doctors are not gods nor are their “rules” laws you have to follow.
This concept does seem odd. Everyone believes that doctors know what’s best and will only prescribe the absolute best. Now I’m not saying this isn’t necessarily true. I’m sure there are plenty of great doctors out there who are looking out for your best interest. I’m just saying that many times, doctors don’t give you ALL the options and many times they give you the one option that is “routine” for them even if it’s not a medical necessity.
For example, when I was pregnant with my first I went “past due”. I knew I would. I was destined to follow in my mother’s footsteps. I probably even knew that 42 weeks was a “deadline”. However, when my doctor told me that she would only let me go to 41.5 weeks, I assumed that this was some sort of law and I had no choice in the matter. So I went along and scheduled that induction. Long story short, I ended up with a crash cesarean even before they induced me, but I’ll always wonder if things would have ended much better if I had not gone with the 41.5 week induction.
Another example, I was pregnant with my second child. I had researched a bit more this time. I knew I could push the envelope to 42 weeks so I did. I was going to get my VBAC. However, my doctor told me that I had to get an epidural in order to try for a VBAC. Once again, it was policy that made this law and once again, I didn’t know that I could refuse. It was never mentioned that I did have the right to refuse policies and routine procedures. Yet again, I followed procedure and thankfully I was still able to get my VBAC even with that epidural.
Flash forward to this baby, baby #4. I now know my rights
. I now know that I can refuse anything I want to. It may be a fight, it’s even possible that some refusals could get me kicked out of the practice (all depending on doctors/midwives and how far along you are) but a pregnant woman has the right to refuse any policy or procedure (at least so long as it’s not life or death).
This is the unspoken truth that I want all pregnant women to know. As a pregnant woman, you have the right to refuse any treatment, drug, policy, and procedure (so long as it’s not a life or death event). It doesn’t matter if it’s hospital policy, it doesn’t matter if that’s how it’s done in the office; if you do not want it then you do not have to get it.
Have I actually done this? Have I actually stood up to my doctor/midwife and said, “no, thank you”? Yes! I’ve done this twice now with this pregnancy. The first time was with my glucose test. I’m not a fan of the traditional glucose test but I went along with it anyway. Now my practice uses a 2 hr glucose test and if you fail it then you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Well, I failed the test. However, it just didn’t sit right with me. I know you can have gestational diabetes with no symptoms but I just couldn’t agree with the idea of being diagnosed without one more test… so I told my midwife that I knew it wasn’t standard or normal but I wanted to take the test again. Go figure, I passed the second test with flying colors. I’m glad I pushed that envelope.
The second time (and it won’t be the last…I have great plans for refusing a lot of delivery procedures) I refused Rhogam. Now Rhogam as most of you will be unfamiliar with it (only 20% of pregnant women need Rhogam) is a shot that has to do with the fact that my blood type is negative and my husband’s is positive. Someday I’ll do a post on Rhogam but for now if you are interested then I suggest checking out these posts from The Healthy HomeEconomist
, Blinded by the Light
, and Midwifery Institute of America
. Now there are two times they like to give you Rhogam, once as a precautionary measure at 28 weeks and then once after birth IF your baby has a positive blood type. It’s the 28 week shot that I have issues with. It’s precautionary and you can always get the shot when it’s actually needed (like after an accident) not to mention there are potential side effects from getting the shot to even the current baby. Most of Europe and many other countries do not do the 28 week shot. Long story short, I didn’t want to get the 28 week shot. Yes, it’s unheard of in America but I didn’t want it. So I refused. Thankfully my midwife was really nice about it (wasn’t expecting that!) she asked why I wanted to refuse (probably to make sure I actually had looked into the whole thing) but she was totally fine with my decision.
My point in all this is that you should feel like you can question your doctor’s/midwives choices. I’m not saying they are out to get you but you should still be able to make all the decisions that YOU want. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, to steer your own pregnancy, to decide what is in your best interest. You have the right to choose or refuse anything; don’t let that unsaid rule go wasted.