Rethinking Modern Birth – Part 3: Ask Questions! (and Question the Answers)

Ask questions, and don’t just accept the answers blindly.

There’s not really any such thing as a “routine” procedure, except for what’s part of your care provider’s typically-preferred routine.

It’s all Optional. Recommended. Suggested. Commonly practiced. 

If your healthcare provider tells you to get a test or procedure done, ask what it’s for, and whether it’s medically necessary.

Is this just something he or she likes to do to fill in a blank on a chart somewhere, or is this procedure actually highly beneficial for YOU and your baby, in your unique situation?

Also, ask how your care would change IF the results came back with cause for concern.

Get in the habit of asking WHY–like a persistent child who craves answers.

A good care provider will take the time to listen to your concerns, to take them seriously, and to explain your concerns patiently–not condescendingly.

If your care provider consistently blows off your questions or doesn’t answer them adequately, don’t be afraid to transfer your care to another provider!

If he or she is dismissive of you now, what makes you think he/she will be patient and willing to cooperate with you when you’re in the throes of hard labor?

There’s a funny–and by ‘funny’ I mean disturbing–sort of power imbalance between medical doctors and their patients.

This seems to be especially true with male doctors and female patients, unfortunately.

We seem to forget that we are powerful, capable, grown adults when we’re in the doctor’s office, sitting on that paper-covered table. We forget that we are paying them to provide a service to us–and we can absolutely fire them if we don’t like the quality of service they’re providing.

Weigh your options (every one of us has options–even if they’re extremely limited), and don’t discount your intuition.

If you feel bulldozed, walked-on, overly apologetic, or afraid of taking up too much of your caregiver’s time when you’re there, you might very well be happier with another caregiver. If nothing else, you can at least commit to being more outspoken with your care provider regarding your needs and preferences.

This is one area of pregnancy where having a doula would really help! A doula has likely attended births at your hospital, and maybe even with your care provider. She knows what policies can be bent, and she’ll be able to help you sort out the evidence for and against the procedures that your OB is recommending–without any agenda beyond keeping you calm, confident, and informed.

Don’t just be a passive participant in your prenatal care. Ask questions, and question the answers you’re given!