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The Most Dangerous Language in Birthing

I frequently hear from clients, especially as we are putting together their birth plans, that "my doctor will let me do this" or "my practice doesn't allow that." There seems to be the sense that the doctors (or midwives, or hospitals) are somehow in charge of the birth experience, and that we need to be good patients and follow the rules in order to have a "good" birth.

This language is incredibly dangerous. When we put the control in the hands of our care providers, we absolve ourselves of responsibility for our birth experiences. We give up, we succumb to the belief that there are no other options, and -- all too often -- we look back with sadness and regret.

We need to change the way we think of these "options." While it's true that there are distinct medical indicators that sometimes necessitate an intervention, or a C-section, or any number of other unanticipated eventualities in labor, to say that a clear birth preference is "not allowed" is to willingly give up our decision-making rights.

If your care provider is using language that takes away your autonomy, or won't offer clear explanations of why a particular procedure is warranted -- or if you find yourself using language such as "not being allowed" to have the kind of birth experience are looking for -- it may be time to take a long, hard look at the practice you're with, the choices you're making (or not making), and the realistic possibility for the birth you're trying to have. I don't advocate going willy-nilly against medical advice, but I do advocated informed decision-making at every step. It's never too late to get a second opinion, to seek out additional resources, or to take ownership of your body and your birth experience.

In the meantime, read the "What you can do to avoid C-sections" section of the Consumer Reports article "What hospitals don't want you to know about C-sections." Think about where and with whom you'll be birthing, and the language being used to describe your birth. And any time you find yourself saying "they're not going to let me," change your language to say "I choose to."

You owe it to yourself... and your growing family.

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