In today's society of advanced medical technology, it is important for women to make informed decisions concerning the birth of their child. Many women have been convinced that things like induction, epidurals and fetal heart monitors are necessary for a healthy birth experience. But what most women do not know is that they have a right to refuse any intervention. Consent forms can be legally modified at the time of signing. Deleting statements and even refusing to sign consents for treatment are well within a patients' rights. Verbal expressions of refusal are considered legitimate and any expression of preferences must be acknowledged. All the risks, benefits and consequences for treatment must be explained in detail by law.
The cesarean rate in the United States is increasing at an alarming pace. The latest CDC statistics show that 31.8 percent of all births are by cesarean. Most patients are not consulted or given access to information concerning the decision for this surgical procedure. Over half the mothers who have repeat cesareans are not given information that would allow them to make an educated decision. The authoritarian model of health care is considered the norm and women who question their doctors are often labeled as radical and uncooperative.
Education is the key to understanding the risks associated with common pregnancy, labor and birth interventions. Making decisions based on information gained through multiple sources is vital to understanding the benefits and risks associated with many pervasive measures. The use of alternate healthcare professionals such as midwives and doulas can also increase the likelihood of an intervention-free birth experience.
Making a birth plan can assist caregivers in understanding the desires of an informed mother. Although not a legal document, it can help those caring for and assisting in the birth to understand the wants and needs of the mother. Certain procedures, such as eye drops for the infant, might be required by law. But other things, like the timing of cutting the cord, are preference issues that can be accommodated.
Intervention rates vary by community and facility. Alternative birth facilities and care providers are an option to consider. Birth centers and home births are becoming more prevalent. These types of services are less likely to intervene in a low risk pregnancy and birth.
The birth philosophy of healthcare providers in often difficult to discern. One free resource to consult is the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services. This consumer rated web site provides information on over 17,500 providers and 6,500 facilities. The overall impact to mother and infant health depends on the quality of maternity care. Being an informed healthcare consumer is vital to experiencing an intervention-free labor and delivery.