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If you’re asking for something outside routine hospital policy, the first answer you receive will probably be no. Expect that first no, and be pleasantly persistent, using all the techniques already mentioned.
I know one woman whose nurse kept telling her there was no way she could have the special requests she’d made for her planned cesarean, such as having both her husband and her doula in the operating room and having her baby skin-to-skin on her chest while the doctor finished the surgery.
The mother just kept nodding and smiling and saying, “I understand, but this is what I want. How can we make it happen?”
Her negotiations were successful, and her doula and husband were both at her side when that beautiful baby was laid on her chest almost immediately after his cesarean birth.
Had she accepted that first no, her birth experience would have been much different.
If it comes down to the line, remember that no one can force you to do anything or accept any intervention that you do not want. Shared decision making requires your consent.
I remember my client who was pushing on hands and knees with a nurse, only to have a midwife come in at the last minute and tell her to turn over on her back. She asked why, and the midwife replied, “I don’t deliver babies this way.” Between strong pushes, the mom simply said, “No.” The midwife told her again to turn over, and again the woman said, “No.” The midwife successfully caught the baby while she stayed on her hands and knees. It was a beautiful birth!
It can be intimidating to have professionals in scrubs and white coats telling you to do something, but if there is no clear safety reason for the request, it is always your right to say simply and clearly, “No.” After all, it is your body, your birth and your baby.
Lamaze International, www.lamaze.org, promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting practices. Lamaze serves as a resource for information, based on the most current medical advice, about what to expect and what choices are available during the childbearing years. Giving Birth with Confidence is the Lamaze blog written for and by real women and men on topics related to pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting. The Lamaze Push for Your Baby campaign provides expectant parents with the support and information needed to spot good maternity care and push for the safest, healthiest birth possible.