During pregnancy, most women feel some form of anxiety about giving birth. It’s pretty normal – even for women who have experienced labour before.
You might feel worry and concern about what to do, what will happen, and whether you or your baby might need assistance during labour.
It’s easy to think that care providers are the experts on birth, and that you need to do everything you are told.
After all, they have seen hundreds of women give birth, and know more about it than you, right?
6 Things To Ask Your Care Provider During Labour
Your care provider is certainly the person you can look to for guidance and reassurance, but it’s still ok to ask questions during labour, so you can make the best choices about your birth experience.
Here are 6 things to ask your care provider during labour.
#1: When Should I Go To Hospital?
Like many pregnant women, you might worry about when you should go to hospital. Go too early, and you might end up being sent home again, which can be really frustrating, not to mention disruptive to the labour hormones that actually progress labour.
Most care providers advise leaving for your birthplace when contractions are regular, strong, and coming every 2-3 minutes. But you’ll need to take into account the time of day (traffic might be bad), and how far away from your birthplace you live.
It’s a good idea to contact your care provider when your contractions are regular and strong (so that you can’t talk through them), and have been coming every 4-5 minutes for one hour. Listening to you on the phone will give your care provider a good indication of when you should head in to your birthplace.
Read the 7 Signs You Might Be In Labour so you’re prepared for when to go into hospital.
#2: What’s The Policy On…?
Ideally, during your antenatal appointments, you will have asked plenty of questions about the policies your birthplace has around any and all procedures.
However, depending on your birthplace, and whether you have different care providers, or shift changes, during your labour, you might need to ask the question several times.
During labour, you might need to make decisions you hadn’t considered before, so it’s important to check with your care provider what the policy is before going ahead.
#3: Have You Read My Birth Plan?
Most women today make some form of birth plan to indicate what they would like to happen while they are in labour. Birth plans can be simple or detailed, and can include plans A, B and C if this helps birthing women feel they have covered all contingencies.
Care providers should always be aware of a birthing mother’s wishes; a birth plan can help them. If possible, remind your care provider that you have a birth plan, and explain what is important to you before labour gets really intense.
Your partner and support people should also be aware that you have a birth plan, so they can direct care providers to it, in case you are unable to do so.
Want to know more about what a birth plan is and get a free template?
#4: Is That Necessary?
In a perfect world, women wouldn’t need to ask this question during labour. Unfortunately, there are so many ‘routine’ procedures in hospitals that many women aren’t aware they have the choice of refusing.
Anything your care providers want to do to you requires you to give informed consent. They are required to tell you what they want to do, and why, and discuss the risks and benefits with you first.
Too often women agree to procedures they don’t want or fully understand, and aren’t made aware of all the risks and benefits. This is not ok. Always ask your care provider whether a procedure is necessary, and if it is, ask why.
It’s important to know about informed consent and birth.
#5: What’s The Alternative?
In a genuine medical emergency, time is of the essence. It’s pretty frightening and stressful to hear the words ‘we need baby to be born now’. Your care provider will try to tell you what’s going on, and why, while a team moves into action.
But not all medical problems have to end in an emergency c-section. If your care provider wants to perform an intervention, you are entitled to ask for more information about the intervention, and whether there are alternatives.
If there is no immediate emergency, your care provider should discuss this with you, and give you time to decide.
#6: What Are My Options?
A hospitals isn’t really the best environment for labour to progress. There is a lot of light, noise, interruptions, and unfamiliar people in your space. All this can cause your brain to release a stress hormone, which slows down labour.
A slowly progressing or stalled labour tends to cause concern for most care providers, and they often want to intervene, to get things back on track. But there are plenty of things you can do before agreeing to have a synthetic oxytocin drip, or have your waters ruptured.
Talk to your care provider about being supported into a more upright position, having monitors removed (if you are low risk and baby is ok, intermittent monitoring is a better option), and being given some space and time to get your own oxytocin going.