Informed consent plays a major role in childbirth. All medical care or treatment options come with some type of risk and expected outcomes. In the case of childbirth, the expected outcome is a safe childbirth that results in a happy and healthy baby.
When you are pregnant and preparing to give birth to your child you will go through the informed consent process. This is a process that allows you to make informed decisions about the type of care that you will receive.
Childbirth involves informed consent because there is always the potential for complications for the mother and fetus. It is crucial that the choices you make on procedures are made with full knowledge of the potential risks.
Talking with your doctor
The informed consent process involves a discussion, or series of discussions, with your physician, about the risks associated with any procedures you might undergo. In childbirth, this discussion usually involves some kind of surgery or the type of childbirth you choose, such as a vaginal childbirth or Cesarean section.
In addition to disclosing the risks of any treatment or procedure, your physician should tell you about the benefits, so you know exactly what to expect. You should be given clear instructions on what you must do to minimize the risks of a procedure and have an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers.
You can do your own research on the treatments or procedures being offered to you and ask your physician questions based on your research. Your physician should not dismiss your questions or refuse to answer them. You should not be given vague or incomplete answers.
How consent is given
Once you are fully informed of the benefits and risks of a certain treatment or procedure, you have the option to consent. Your consent should be both verbal and written. You will likely be asked to sign a document. The document should contain information about everything you discussed with your physician.
You can only give informed consent after an in-person or verbal conversation with your physician. You should never simply be given a form to sign.
You might be confused or unsure if you have properly given informed consent. If you have not had an opportunity to ask questions, you probably have not given informed consent.
Why informed consent is so important
When you have informed consent, you and your baby are less likely to sustain birth injuries. Many birth injuries occur due to miscommunication between a mother and their physician or negligence by the physician or medical staff.
Lack of informed consent is a form of medical malpractice, which occurs when a physician or healthcare provider performs below the accepted standards of medical care.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid birth injuries. Even if your physician does everything they can and you have given informed consent, birth injuries can still happen. This is why it is important to be informed about all your options and consent to the ones you feel have the most benefit and are a fit with your childcare preferences.