What is Informed Consent?

“So, you may have heard the terms informed consent. It is really important during your labor and birth process. It is really important for your pregnancy. I think it’s even really important as a parent as your child grows. Informed consent has to do with the decisions that you make regarding your medical procedures, before your birth, during your labor, and even after you have your baby.

“Informed consent means that you have as much information about particular topics, interventions, or emergencies that may come up during your labor process that you have researched these ahead of time. You can ask questions of your medical professionals, and I do advise my students to do that. That’s awesome! You want to ask those questions, but if it’s an emergency situation and you’re asking those questions, then you may not hear or be able to take in all the information that they give you.” 

What Should You Research Before Childbirth?

“You may not have the time to research your options if there is an emergency or even if you just need to make a quick decision in a non-emergency situation. So, ahead of time, get all the information that you can about birth variations, breech-birth, induction methods or medications, interventions that can be used during your labor, things like electronic fetal monitoring, and wireless or waterproof monitors. There are a lot of things that you may have access to during your labor that you’ll want to know about ahead of time. Taking a childbirth education class is a great way to learn the pros, the cons, the benefits, and the risks. So, research ahead of time and discuss during your interviews or your appointments with your medical professionals during your pregnancy.” 

Informed Consent During Labor and Delivery

“During your labor, you want to ask the questions, ‘Why is this procedure being recommended for me?’ ‘What are the benefits and the risks?’ If it’s a medication, you may want to see the package insert to look at the adverse reactions and who that medication is recommended for, and who it’s not safe for. You can ask them, ‘If I do choose this procedure or intervention, what then must occur?’ Some interventions require a second decision to be made. So, that’s important to think about too.”

Emergency Versus Non-Emergent Decisions

“Another informed consent question to ask is, ‘Is there time? May I have a moment to think about this?’ If it’s a true emergency, they’ll probably let you know that there’s no time and you have to make this decision right away. Or, there is no decision to be made. They have to make it for you. But if there is, if they say, ‘Yeah, take a minute, we’ll leave the room,’ then you and your partner can discuss it. In this case, it might not be a true emergency. It can give you time to discuss your needs, your wishes, your wants, and even maybe look up a few answers, call your childbirth educator, or consult with your doula.” 

Why Informed Consent is Important

“it is really important to ask these questions during your pregnancy, during your labor, and even concerning the newborn interventions and care that the hospital will provide for your newborn. I encourage all people to make informed decisions. You really cannot make an informed decision if you just do what you’re told and you have no information about what you’re being told to do. You need that information to make the best-educated decision that you can. One that you’re comfortable with and one that’s right for you and your family.”