Pomerene Hospital Blog

Empowering Women During Their Obstetrical Care

Pomerene Marketing - Monday, April 22, 2019




I really struggled with writing this article. It all seems really easy, just tell someone that they should do something. Hey woman, be empowered, but life rarely works that way. Years of paternalism (a system where the person who has the authority makes the decisions for another person because the authority figure knows what is best) has given women the false idea that the provider (doctor or midwife) knows entirely what is best for her body. How is it that a woman’s body knows exactly how to grow a whole person, but all the details and the birth should be given to the provider to “handle”? Now, I am not saying that providers are not needed.

Certainly, Mother Nature has flaws and providers can guide the woman and help prevent complications, but the key here is guide. Who is the expert on you? It’s not a trick question, it’s you! No one knows your preferences, needs, and desires more than you. Providers are the experts in what is normal or abnormal for most, what can go wrong in particular situations, and how to prevent or treat problems. Providers are there to answer your questions, to educate you about your body, and to guide you in your decision-making about what is the best way to treat your concerns or problems. They are not there to control and make decisions for you.

How do you go about taking back your power in your care? The first step is finding a provider that you feel comfortable with, who puts you at ease. In that first meeting, do they sit down with you? Do they look you in the eye, ask questions, and then listen to your answers? If not, you have to think, are they interested in what you have to say or do they have their own agenda? Truly, your care is about you, how can anyone think they know what is best for you without your input?

Next is finding your voice. Ask questions! How can you decide what you would like to do if you do not understand what you are choosing? Providers go to school and are educated, but they do not know how the available choices fit into your life. They are there to explain the options and then you decide which one suits your preferences, values, and comfort. Do not be afraid to ask questions, to challenge your provider, you are not an inconvenience.

You are the entire reason your provider has a job, and that job is to make recommendations and help you care for yourself. You have the right to know all of your choices and the right to accept or refuse any test, procedure, or medication. If you refuse something, the provider should respect your decision. It is your body and if they do not, then they are not the provider for you. You want to build that trust in the office, because for the pregnant women especially, a more vulnerable time is approaching.

Obstetrical violence occurs every day because providers think they know best for laboring women and make decisions for them without their consent. This leads to feelings of doubt and possibly lasting trauma. In that moment of extreme vulnerability, you need someone who will support you. You should carefully choose who you allow in your birth space, starting with your provider. Choose someone with whom you feel comfortable voicing concerns, asking questions, discussing options, and who empowers you to make decisions regarding your health. This is important because in an emergency you want that provider who is going to take a few extra seconds to discuss it with you and involve you in the decision-making.

Women are strong, we run households, we grow humans inside our bodies. We make decisions every day to grow, support, and nurture our families. Should we not do the same for ourselves? You are resilient, you are brave, and you know what is best for you. You have the right to be educated, the right to know all of your options, the right to make your own choices, and the right to have a provider who feels the same way.

Crystal is a Certified Nurse Midwife here at Pomerene and Pomerene Women's Health Services and has been with Pomerene for one year.



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