Advocating for Yourself During Pregnancy. Why You Should and How to Do It!

I've been reading some disturbing articles lately about women and childbirth, women of color in particular, and how we are dying at an alarming rate during childbirth. That or we are suffering some kind of trauma. I have to admit it's making me do a lot of thinking about my previous experiences pregnancy experiences. The most traumatic thing to happen to me was the eclampsia experience that resulted in a blood pressure spike, two seizures, and something I will never forget.

I am currently 37 weeks pregnant and so far I've had great care. I'm blessed in that aspect. I do wonder if the delivery will be different though. I'm praying for the best. I also think that my knowledge and experience is a great help to me. I've been pretty firm on what I do and do not want when speaking with my midwife and she is onboard with everything.

Since this whole COVID-19 pandemic, things have been increasingly concerning for many of us. Especially if you are pregnant. Rules and regulations have changed and some people have no one to advocate for them. It's important to know that you can advocate for yourself. Please speak up and if you feel like you aren't being heard you can deny care and also get a second opinion. In other words, take your business elsewhere. If you are being mistreated in a healthcare facility or by a healthcare professional you do have rights. Many people feel as though they have no say so because the person they are seeing is a doctor or healthcare professional however, if it doesn't feel right and you feel disrespected, speak up and address the issues at hand. Your life and your baby's life is very important.

Wondering how do you go about doing this?

1. Remember! You're the leader, you're in charge. As I stated earlier, many of us have the thought that "the doctor knows best." This is not always the case. What works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else. If you DO NOT feel safe or feel as though you are not being heard, you can and have the right not to continue the appointment. You also have the right to find another provider.

2. Educate, Educate, Educate! When you find out that you are pregnant the best thing you can do is to educate yourself as much as possible. Find out about things like exams, inductions, medications and so on. Some things that a provider tells you may or may not be necessary. So be sure you have an understanding of things. If a provider tells you he/she suggests certain things, take the time to research it before you make a decision. (if you can, sometimes things do happen in an emergency and even then you have the right to decline if you're in a position to do so)

3. Ask your provider questions! I know it's 2020 but many providers and facilities are still holding on to the ways of the past for whatever reason. Know that times have changed. Find out how your provider feels about having a doula or coach with you? How do they feel about you declining vaginal exams unless you absolutely need to. See how they feel about you deciding your birth position. Consider these questions and feel free to add more.

4. Know your rights! When you check in or are admitted to the hospital and you sign papers, understand that those papers don't mean you no longer have rights. Signing those papers doesn't mean those around you have the right to do whatever they want. Remember you can say no and you can also change your mind.

At the end of the day it's about speaking up, asking questions, and educating yourself. If it doesn't feel right or comfortable to you, don't accept it, the healthcare team is there to help you not dictate or control you. How do you feel about advocating for yourself? Have you had to do so or know someone who has? Please feel free to share.

Until next time, I'm sending you peace, love and light.

Tiffany Underwood

Certified Health Coach (Pregnancy and Postpartum Support)

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