There’s no “Have To” in Childbirth

Photo: Jackie Dives, Vancouver Birth Photographer

Photo: Jackie Dives, Vancouver Birth Photographer

If there is one phrase I’d like to get rid of in birth, it’s “have to”.

There are no “have tos” in birth, there are only medical recommendations and a birthing woman’s informed choice.

There is no such thing as “My baby is breech so I have to have a hospital birth.” There is no “I have to be induced because I’m 42 weeks”. There is no “I have to have¬†continuous¬†monitoring of my baby’s heart rate because I chose to receive an epidural”.

If you have a doctor or registered midwife, they can make recommendations, and you make an informed choice about those recommendations.

Speak about your birth choices in a way that keeps the power with YOU:

“My doctor recommended induction at 42 weeks. I asked for a lot of information about this recommendation, and in the end I chose to decline (or consent to) induction.”

“My nurse told me it standard practice at my hospital to use continuous electronic fetal monitoring when women have an epidural. I, with the support of my doula and partner, asked informed consent questions about this policy, and I chose to decline (or consent to) this monitoring.”

“My registered midwife told me she was unable to support my home birth plan because my baby was breech. I did some research and I chose to find another way to birth at home (or I chose to plan a hospital breech birth).

Keep your birth power, women. You don’t “have to” do anything. You can choose to consult with whomever you like for their recommendations (medical or not), and then you make a choice about whether or not to follow those recommendations. Your body, your birth, your baby, your CHOICE.

Jessica Austin, Vancouver Doula & Childbirth Services

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  15 comments for “There’s no “Have To” in Childbirth

  1. Shelby
    January 27, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    This is perfect! The most hated phases in relation to birth for me are “I have to” and “they will/won’t let me”. Mothers don’t have to do anything…they choose or decline to, and the hospital/OBGYN/Midwife doesn’t allow/ disallow anything in relation to yours and your baby’s bodies!

  2. Hannah
    November 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. It was just what I needed today. Every mother has the right to informed consent and refusal after looking at her risks and benefits. Only she can make the final call.

  3. Tina
    November 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Wonderful post! My jaw clenches involuntarily whenever I see/hear someone saying they “have to” do something or other in relation to their birth.

    That said, women who are afraid to take full ownership of their births use this as a way of abdicating responsibility. And women who are conflict avoiders will do this also.

    As with everything birth, there is usually extra layers of “stuff” going on when a woman allows someone else to call the shots on something that impacts her and her baby so fundamentally.

  4. Marlena Schutz
    January 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

    This is a wonderful article and I would really like to add it to my birth pinterest board, but unfortunately, there are no pinnable pictures on this page ;(

  5. Urban Doula - Chloe Dierkes
    January 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    This is awesome Jess… along the same lines as the other misconception that I hear all the time with statements like “at my birth my doctor/midwife let me ____________”.

    The power is YOURS until you talk like this and hand it over to someone else.

  6. Tara - Doula on the Drive
    January 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    This is awesome Jessica…simple and well put! You rock!

  7. January 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm
  8. katie
    January 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    You have to get the baby out somehow

    • January 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Hmmm, what do you mean, Katie?

      • aimee
        November 30, 2013 at 12:35 am

        I’m thinking she meant that’s the only “have to” of birth! Loved this article!

  9. January 3, 2013 at 9:07 am

    YES! One of the most important things a pregnant woman should know!

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