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This Is Your Birthday Party: Maintaining Your Personal Soverginity in a Hospital Birth

Why is it that when a woman gives birth in a hospital, she feels like a guest? Read that again. If you've had a hospital birth, how did you feel when you arrived in your labor and delivery room? Did you actually ask your nurses if you could use the restroom or obtain a sip of water? I completely understand that it's courteous to do so, but why do we feel like we're immediately less than?

We don't experience this invisible hierarchy hardly anywhere else and I'm not saying it's a terrible thing, it's just something we've been conditioned to do. When we are in a foreign and sterile environment, we are naturally intimated by those in power, but it doesn't have to be that way.

I'm here to tell you that this is your birthday party. You're the boss! You are the one paying your care provider and nurses so you have a say in your hospital birthing experience.

One of my many goals as a doula is to help you regain your sovereignty. I'd like to take this opportunity to go over what some of your rights are and what they mean:

  • Your Right to Body Autonomy: No one gets to do anything to your body without your permission. Your baby is legally a part of you until they are born.

  • Your Right to Fair and Equal Treatment: You have the right to be treated as any other patient regardless of your race, age, religion, sexuality, etc.

  • Your Right to Informed Consent and Refusal: Before a medical professional can legally touch your body or treat it in any way, they have to participate in a process with you that ensures that they have consent and that that consent was freely given on the basis of information about your clinical condition and the treatments available. It should include three steps:

  1. Inform. Your care provider gives you objective, fact-based information about the condition and the evidence behind the treatment risks and alternatives.

  2. Advise. Your care provider gives you their subjective opinion-- what they think is the best course of action.

  3. Support. Your care provider has an ethical obligation and legal duty to support your choice even if it goes against their medical advice. *I'd like to make an important note here: They cannot withdraw care if you don't follow their advice.

My intention behind this post is not to ruffle feathers, but instead to serve as static information for women who are curious about their rights when contemplating a hospital birth.

Below I have attached a few websites that you may find useful when exploring this topic. However, if you reside outside of Arizona I encourage you to look up your state's local rights.

Canyon Vista Medical Center's Patient Rights and Responsibilities:

Northern Arizona Healthcare Knowing Your Patient Rights:

*I would also like to note that if you are planning a hospital birth at Canyon Vista Medical Center located in Sierra Vista, Arizona our midwives and nurses do a phenomenal job at respecting your patient's rights and making sure you feel supported.

I hope this settles some anxieties for those of you who are intimated by a hospital birthing experience. If you still have questions though, please feel free to reach out to me and as always, remember that nothing outside of you has power over you.

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