Healthcare professionals are incredible. They help deliver our babies safely into the world, aid us with making safe decisions, and assist us if something doesn’t quite go to plan. But there are times when coercion or pressure can happen from these individuals. It’s never personal and it mostly stems from preferring to be cautious, rather than trying to be outright nasty. However, it’s important to feel happy and confident in your pregnancy decisions, and if you feel like a situation or intervention is being forced upon you, this post is for you.

I had the exact same thing happen to me, it didn’t feel right to me, and so I followed these steps to make sure that I was making the safest and best decision I could for myself, my partner, and our baby.

 

pregnancy decisions

 

It’s important to note that this is my own experience and you should absolutely take into account your healthcare provider’s recommendations. This post isn’t written to make you shun your doctor’s opinion, but to ensure that you are able to make your own informed pregnancy decisions from the information they provide that will keep your baby safe, and its mama happy.

First, let me tell you about my own personal experience. At 32 weeks I was sent for a growth scan as the midwife had measured my baby dropping from the 40th centile to the 10th. At this scan, although baby girl was measuring on the 40th centile still, it was noted there was a little calcification on the placenta, which is a sign of an aging placenta, and if it’s picked up before 35/36 weeks it counts as premature. It wasn’t something that the sonographer was worried about at the time but it was noted down anyway.

At 35 weeks, once again baby girl was not playing ball and her growth looked to be under the 10th centile and as such, we were sent for a second growth scan. Turns out she really likes hiding in there and her growth was fine.

Then, during my home birth sign-off at 36 weeks, my midwife saw the notes about calcification on my placenta and wanted to run it past a consultant, who wanted to scan me at 37 weeks simply for reassurance. Up until this point I’d had complete midwifery care and never come into contact with a consultant.

During this scan, we were immediately asked if we were willing to change our birth plan before the scan had even begun. The level of blood flowing from my body to the placenta was low although still within normal range. The consultant pushed for us to be induced at 38 weeks, however when we questioned the necessity of this considering we were still within the normal range, she offered us the option of extra monitoring and a follow-up scan a week later.

When we chose this option, we were told that she “wished she’d never given us this option”, were made to feel like this was the wrong option to take, that we were risking our baby’s life, and in her words “you’re full-term now, why are you risking her health?!” We had stillbirth percentages of 9% thrown at us, were constantly questioned as to why we didn’t want to be induced, and were told that she didn’t agree with home births. We were also told that if levels had dropped further by the next scan, which she expected them to, she WOULD be inducing us at 39 weeks. It was as if we had no choice whatsoever. All of our birth preferences were disrespected and we left the appointment feeling like we had no control.

This was the most negative experience we could have possibly had and I felt our homebirth slip away immediately. I was convinced I would be induced at 39 weeks and spent the rest of the day crying. We’re not risky people and of course, we were ready to get baby girl into the world as safely as possible, whatever way that needed to happen. 

However, we felt the induction was unnecessary and pushed upon us, so we did a few things to ensure we made our own pregnancy decisions and felt happy and safe with our decision. Because of this, at the next scan (with the same consultant) we were told induction was unnecessary and that the consultant was happy with our homebirth plan, with a couple of minor compromises (she wanted us to have intermittent monitoring and vaginal exams, both of which we were happy to have anyway), and one more follow up scan was scheduled at 39 weeks just for reassurance. At this 39 week scan, once again we were respected and signed back over to the care of the midwives with no other action necessary.

So here are a few tips in case you’re in a similar situation where you feel you’re being disrespected and heavily pushed into or out of something that doesn’t feel right without much justification, or unable to make your own pregnancy decisions.

 

Get clued up

Google is not the place to find out reliable pregnancy information, but there are other sites that are. I highly recommend reading the NICE guidelines for the situation you find yourself in.

They give evidence-based recommendations, which are all developed by leading healthcare professionals. These are also the guidelines that antenatal professionals should be working with.

The information it provides is unbiased and should help you to understand your situation more clearly and make the best decision you can.

Another way you can gain more information is to ask for a second opinion. You should be able to schedule an appointment with a different healthcare professional if you feel that your doctor is coercing or forcing their own opinion on you. This will help you to determine whether your doctor is being overly cautious or if there is a strong need for the action they’re suggesting.

 

Ask Questions

In my experience, consultants can be intimidating. They are often much more abrupt than midwives and can forget that you’re a human being with feelings, and I don’t know about you, but I am a sensitive little sausage who much prefers the more gentle approach of the midwives. Obviously, I’m not speaking about all consultants here. 

If you feel like you’re being coerced into making pregnancy decisions that you’re unhappy with, ask lots of questions. Some great questions to ask are:

  • If I choose not to take this option, what are the risks for my baby?
  • What is the medical justification for this?
  • Is there an alternative?
  • What happens if we wait?

I was threatened with a heightened risk of pre-eclampsia, stillbirth, and growth restriction, so the best question I asked was “as I’m not pre-eclamptic and my baby’s growth is not restricted, what is the direct need for induction?” This was a question I asked of my midwife which she then passed onto the consultant. I believe that it was this question that stopped the consultant from pushing for induction as there was no medical justification. Everyone had different situations, but asking what the need is for an action to be taken, or what the risks are of choosing another option are both excellent questions that will provide you with clarity on the situation. P.S, you can never ask too many questions, and no question is stupid.

 

Talk to your midwife

Midwives are the angels of the health care world. I swear they all deserve to be knighted. I have received such incredible support from my team throughout my whole pregnancy, and between the first 2 scans, I had a midwife appointment, where I told her everything that had happened and how unhappy I was with our treatment. 

She not only consoled me and made me feel like I gained some of my power to make my own pregnancy decisions back, but on top of that, she contacted the particular consultant herself to ask questions, which I believe is what made the difference in our 2nd scan.

As soon as we walked into the 2nd scan, the consultant was pleasant, respectful, and listened to our preferences. She was no longer heavy on pushing induction, and luckily as our levels were still roughly the same, she was happy for us to labour naturally.

 

Take some time

Sometimes, you can feel pressured into making a decision right there and then, without time to speak with your partner alone, think of questions, or decide whether the option is right for you. But always remember, you DO NOT need to decide right there and then for 99% of all cases (emergencies are obviously different).

It is perfectly acceptable for you to tell your healthcare provider that you need time to weigh up the decision and that you will call them to let them know which option you will be choosing.

 

Control what you can, let go of what you can’t

This is something I learned from The Bump To Baby Chapter course, which I highly recommend if you’re looking for a hypnobirthing course.

Related: Hypno-what? The Best UK Hypnobirthing Online Courses

Birth can be unpredictable and despite your best efforts, sometimes situations arise that are unplanned and not what you originally wanted. Sometimes intervention is required for the health of you and your baby, and accepting that can be really difficult. 

But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep some control over your birth. It’s easy to think, once your birth plan is altered significantly that there’s no point in worrying about your preferences because you won’t have the birth you wanted anyway.

To this, I say a big fat NOPE. Unless you’re in an emergency situation, you will still be able to control a lot of what happens. Let’s use induction as an example.

If you’re being induced, you can still choose to remain upright by bouncing on a birth ball, you can choose whether or not you want a medicated birth, you can dim the lights, have your own tealights, choose your own music, and create a safe and calm space for you to labour in.

The only things you can’t control are that you will need continuous monitoring, that you’re in a hospital environment, and that depending on the type of induction, you may be unable to have a water birth. These are the things to let go of. So, control what you can to ensure you have a positive birth and let go of anything that is out of your control.

 

Final thoughts

Those are my tips for making informed pregnancy decisions. Medical providers are here to help us and bring our babies safely into the world, and I respect and appreciate that. But there are those that will coerce you into decisions you’re not happy with, or push unnecessary medical interventions upon you, and in those instances, I say that the better prepared you can be, the happier and more in control you’ll feel with those decisions. 

Related: Third Trimester Checklist: Everything You Need To Do To Prepare

Tags: