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"No means no!" Why you should be giving your informed consent during pregnancy and birth.

Would you ever go to the hair salon thinking you were having a quick wash and blow-dry only to come out with your hair 12 inches shorter and your gorgeous golden locks resembling something from the Trolls movie? No is the answer!

 

A hair stylist would talk to you about what they recommend for your hair based on its condition, length, style, and your skin tone and would then advise you on what they were about to do. They would do a final check before adding the new hair colour, and again before giving you the chop!


my birth, my body, my decision quote.
Your consent should always be obtained before you receive any form of care.

"No means no!” Why you should be giving your informed consent during pregnancy and birth.

Why is it then that women have reached out to me this week telling me all about their experiences of having sweeps performed without their consent and having their waters broken during a ‘routine’ vaginal examination, again, without their prior consent.


I know that this is not the case for every woman going through the pregnancy and birth system in the Middle East, and in the interest of keeping things balanced, I also received messages stating how incredible the care was that some women have received. However, it still shocks me to my core that off the back of one story post I made about a client not giving her consent, I had so many more women reach out in a #meetoo style movement.

 

Conversations I’ve since had with these women have described how ‘routine’ vaginal examinations (which don’t have to happen by the way) in appointments close to their due date, ended in these illegal and horrifying events happening. All of which are deemed induction methods by the way!

 

So what is the point of this article?

It’s not to build a campaign again giving birth in this region of the world, it’s about raising awareness that everything that happens to you (and your baby) should be after your informed consent has been given, or if you are not able to, your birth partner has given consent based on them having the prior knowledge of what you want to happen.

 

What is informed consent?

The goal of obtaining informed consent from pregnant or birthing people is to go through a process by which mum is provided with information that is necessary and relevant to their decision making (including the risks and benefits of accepting or declining recommended treatment or procedures) and helps them to decide upon the best course of action for themselves and their baby. This process should be adequate, accurate and presented in an understandable way where the person is free to ask questions and to make an intentional and voluntary choice, which may include refusal of the proposed care.


What should you do if you feel something wasn’t quite right?

If you are in the UK and something in your gut is telling you that the care you have received, or are about to receive isn’t quite right, you can do the following things:

 

1.    Take a moment to think, breathe and use your BRAIN to work out what you want to do next (give consent to the proposed care, or not).

2.    If you have already given consent to a certain aspect of your care but you change your mind you can ‘withdraw your consent’ by telling the staff involved.

3.    If after the care has been given, and you feel your full informed and unbiased consent was not given, it would be wise to speak to the Midwife team leader on shift and formally raise your concerns.

a.    To take this further, you can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for free who are in independent service that help to resolve issues informally with the hospital before you make a complaint.

b.    You can make a formal complaint using the contact information that is usually displayed in waiting rooms, at reception, or on the service providers website. You can also ask a member of staff for their procedure as all NHS services will have a slightly different process.

 

* For private institutions in the UK and abroad this process might look a little different. Check out their website for more information on their complaints procedure.


Again, I want to highlight that I am not intending to scaremonger people about what may or may not happen to them at appointments or while in labour. My intention here is to help be a voice for those who have experienced care that did not factor in or obtain prior consent and what to do afterwards.

 

By making complaints and making people aware that the care that has been provided has not followed the law, people/midwives/consultants etc. might think twice about performing such procedures on unsuspecting women without their consent.

 

My mission is to help people come away from giving birth feeling massively empowered in that they were integral in deciding what happened to themselves and their babies during their birth, not that it happened ‘to’ them. I will continue to raise awareness and provide education for birthing people so that they too feel confident to ask questions, confident to get the information they need, and confident to make the decision there is right for them.

 

If this is something you’d like to get on board with, feel free to drop me a DM on Instagram or email me ♡

 

Lots of love xx

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