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#33: My Body My Choice: How to Navigate Informed Consent for a Better Birth Experience


A key component to having an empowering birth experience is advocacy. Your voice should be at the center of your care ALWAYS. And advocating for what you want really matters. Unfortunately, the medical culture in the USA is not great about ensuring folks consent to different interventions or procedures, especially during childbirth. 


In today’s episode, I am going to share a personal story about an instance that happened to me in a medical setting all the information you should know about making informed consent or refusal during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. 


In this episode, we dive into the following:

  • What you need to know about your right to informed consent

  • What informed consent and refusal really mean

  • How power dynamics play out in a medical system

  • Tips to make advocacy much easier during labor

Listen to the podcast now:



Welcome back to another episode of the Mindful Womb Podcast. Today, I'm opening up about a recent personal experience in a medical setting that, while unfortunate, carries crucial lessons about the power of informed consent. It's a tale of my recent endoscopy adventure, and I'm sharing it because I believe it holds valuable insights for everyone navigating the complex landscape of medical procedures. So, buckle up for a candid exploration of my journey and the importance of our mantra: "My body, my choice."


Unveiling the Endoscopy Nightmare:

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a hospital bed, adorned in a hospital gown, leggings, and gigantic snow boots. Yes, you heard that right… they had me keep my boots on! As I geared up for an endoscopy, a procedure involving a camera journeying down my esophagus, I wasn’t expecting the experience to unfold like it did… raising critical questions about informed consent.


The Unanticipated Detour:

As the nurse prepared me for the procedure, a surprising turn of events took place. Instead of the anticipated pre-procedure discussion with my doctor, I found myself abruptly handed consent forms to sign. In the whirlwind of the moment, I assumed the detailed conversation would unfold in the operating room. Little did I know, I was about to be blindsided.


Anesthesia Surprise:

Mid-conversation with my doctor, a nurse intervened, placing a device in my mouth and signaling an abrupt end to our dialogue. To my shock, the anesthesiologist swiftly administered anesthesia without a moment's warning or discussion of its risks and benefits. In a matter of seconds, I was unconscious, leaving me disoriented and emotionally unsettled post-procedure.


Decoding Informed Consent:

My story isn't just a personal account but a gateway to understanding the essence of informed consent, especially in medical settings. Let's dive into the fundamental principles:


  • Your Rights in a Medical Setting:

  • Full and accurate information about interventions, risks, and alternatives is your right.

  • No one can force you into a procedure.

  • All procedures should be explained in a language and level you understand.


  • Psychological Dynamics at Play:

  • Recognizing power dynamics and white coat syndrome in medical settings.

  • The importance of having an advocate, like a doula, to amplify your voice.


  • Navigating Labor Dynamics:

  • Understanding altered states of consciousness during contractions can impact your ability to advocate during labor.

  • Taking responsibility for knowing your options and researching ahead of time is crucial.


  • Routine Procedures vs. Personalized Care:

  • Question assumptions about routine practices in medical settings.

  • It’s important providers take time to explain interventions and obtain consent or refusal.


Informed consent goes beyond signing a form; it's about understanding risks, benefits, and alternatives. My journey through the endoscopy underscored the necessity of being informed, empowered, and actively involved in decision-making during medical procedures. Remember, you are the expert on your body, and advocating for yourself ensures a birth experience aligned with your values. If you're curious to delve deeper into advocacy strategies, check out my childbirth class, "A Path to a Powerful Birth." 


Until next time, stay informed, stay empowered, and take control of your unique journey. Your body, your choice. Catch you in the next episode!



 

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