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  • Writer's pictureEmily McMichael

Advocacy During Labor and Childbirth: Talking with your Provider while Pregnant

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

It's time for the third entry in my Advocacy During Childbirth series! We've covered a lot of ground already about how to advocate for yourself in preparation for your birth. Just to recap, we've discussed:

  1. Choosing the provider that's right for you.

  2. Learning about and finalizing your birth preferences

So now that you have your birth preferences down and you've chosen a provider who you are comfortable with and who will be willing to support your birth, it's time to talk with them about the specifics! If you're working with a provider who regularly sees you for only 15-30 minutes, it's a good idea to call and make a separate appointment to discuss your birth plan. If your visits are usually longer, you may ask to talk with your provider during one of your appointments. I'd let them know in advance when you plan to bring in your birth plan and that you'd like to talk about it.

You've worked hard on your birth plan. You've imagined, thought, possibly discussed with your birth partner, and put pen to paper. It's important to you. And, while you know things during birth may not go exactly as planned, you'd like to solidify your choices beforehand. It's my hope you feel empowered enough to insist on a detailed conversation with your provider. Some providers may readily encourage this conversation, others may be used to just sticking your birth plan in your file somewhere, and others may disregard your desire for one. In the first two instances, following your request, I'm positive you will be able to speak with your provider. In the last, it might be time to think about changing your provider.

Why is it so important to speak with your provider about your plan. Here are a few reasons:

  1. Wondering if your provider is fully supportive? This conversation helps you to understand what preferences will or will not be supported by your provider.

  2. Your provider calls the shots on the day of your birth. It's important they know what type of birth you want and what interventions you absolutely do not want (unless medically necessary).

  3. The discussion helps to avoid confrontation on the day of your birth. Once you've spoken with your provider about your plan, they've signed off on it. Then on the day of your birth, you or your birth partner can pull out your plan and just remind your provider of what you had discussed.

There are online resources for writing a birth plan. Ultimately, it takes a bit of education (self-education or a class) about birth to understand all your options. I always encourage students and clients to take time to write the plan--templates just aren't as personal. Once your plan is done, I hope you feel encouraged and excited about the day of your baby's birth. Happy writing!

We still have more to think about when it comes to advocacy during this exciting time! Next up: Partner and Doula Support

Emily McMichael M.Ed., CD(DONA), AAHCC, HBCE, CLC, LLL

Oh, and by the way, your body was made for birth.

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