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Women have no idea that they are the ones in control when it comes to being pregnant and having children. We have been conditioned to believe that the doctor is the one in charge and that we have no choice but to follow their recommendations.
I have gotten quite upset over the lack of knowledge, we women have. Even I have fallen to the belief that if my doctor says that this must happen by such a time or that I need to do such and such, that I have no other choice but to go along with their plan. Sadly, I was under-informed.
All pregnant women have rights. Many of these rights, I feel we actually know. The Pregnant Woman’s Rights… We have simply forgotten that we have them. The doctors and hospitals are the ones working for us, not the other way around.
To give you a little pregnancy history on me here is a bit of my story. With my oldest son, I was led to believe that I had to be induced at 41 ½ weeks. The doctor never said anything about the fact that I had the right to refuse this induction or even that I could have made her let me go longer. Therefore, I followed orders and went in to get induced.
Oddly enough, I didn’t even get to the induction part. As the nurse was trying to put the i.v. in, I apparently freaked out enough to cause the baby’s heart rate to go off the charts. Next thing I know, I’m having an emergency cesarean.
Now with the emergency cesarean, I didn’t have a choice; the baby was in danger. I’m glad that the on-call doctor was able to get me operated on so quickly but I often wonder what would have happened if I had just refused to be induced so early.
With my next son, things went a bit different. I switched doctors, I actually switched to the doctor who had done my emergency cesarean. She was allowing me to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) I didn’t even have to ask to try, she initiated the idea of a VBAC.
However, she came with some conditions. She wanted me to get a “mandatory” epidural, just in case I needed an emergency cesarean. Feeling that I had no other choice, I went with it.
That VBAC was a miracle. There is a small risk with trying for a VBAC if you go un-medicated, however when you start adding any medication or interventions the risk increases.
It was odd that she wanted me to get that epidural as it increased my odds, not decrease it. With that epidural, came a lot of other interventions, so as I said, my VBAC was a miracle.
After reading and researching, I have come to understand that I could have changed how either of those deliveries had gone. Now that I know I have rights, I am fully taking charge of this pregnancy and delivery. This delivery, I will not feel like I had no other choice but to blindly follow my doctor’s recommendations.
The Pregnant Woman’s Rights
1) Every woman has the right to health care before, during, and after pregnancy.
2) The right to receive care that is consistent with current scientific evidence about benefits and risks. If the practice is harmful or ineffective then it should be avoided.
3) The right to choose a midwife or doctor as her care provider.
4) The right to choose her birth setting from her safe options available.
5) The right to leave her maternity care giver if she becomes dissatisfied.
6) The right to know the qualifications of those involved in her care as well as to know when those involved are trainees.
7) The right to receive care in privacy and to have all information treated according to the standards of confidentiality.
8) The right to full and clear information about risks, benefits, and costs of any and all procedures (drugs, tests, and treatments)
9) The right to accept or refuse any treatment, drugs, or tests. She also has the right to change her mind at any time. (This one is usually only true as long as the mother or baby is not in a life or death situation.)
10) The right to be informed if she or her infant is enrolled in a research study and the right to accept or deny participating.
11) The right to access any and all of her pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and infant records.
12) The right to receive care that is appropriate for her culture and religious beliefs, as well as to receive information in a language she can understand.
13) The right to have any family members and friends she chooses to be present in any part of her maternity care.
14) The right for information on risks and benefits of any and all available methods of pain relief. She has the right to refuse or accept any and change her mind at any time.
15) The right to freedom of movement during labor and the right to deliver in any position she desires.
16) The right to uninterrupted time with her newborn, so long as both she and the baby are healthy and do not need to be separated for care.
17) The right to have information on breastfeeding, to refuse any supplements or actions that could interfere with breastfeeding, as well as have access to lactation support.
18) The right to decide with the caregiver when she and the baby can go home.