At first glance, a lot of women may be put off by the idea of refusing care from their doctor or midwife. After all, don’t they know best? Aren’t they interested in preserving the birth a mother is aiming for while keeping mom and baby safe? Why would they ever recommend an intervention that isn’t totally necessary.
Healthcare providers have an inclination to recommend many of the things outlined below simply because they're covering the bases and giving mom-to-be options. Notably, this behavior does tend to be more common among obstetricians than midwives because they have licences to prescribe medical interventions.
While OBs are taught about natural birth and the body’s ability to manage pregnancy and labor, they're taught to look for signs of trouble and to intervene.
For the women who are informed on their rights and educate themselves on the matters of birth, they find that there is very little to be afraid of. When birth is seen for the beautiful and natural process that it is, there becomes less room for intervention and discussions surrounding it. Childbirth is not an emergency situation.
In fact, in many countries, obstetricians are only brought in to oversee pregnancies of women who are considered high risk while most women are tended to by midwives.
Part of the stigma against refusing interventions is that society promotes the idea that the doctor knows best, and for some women this isn’t always true. Sometimes doctors also have an interest on getting home for dinner and they prefer inductions. Sometimes they have a financial stake in making more from a Cesarean birth than a vaginal one.
Women have been pressured into thinking they aren’t allowed to refuse interventions. Don’t get it twisted, mommas. We hire the doctors, not the other way around.
14 Hospital Births
Once upon a time, most births occurred at home or in a community-based tent where neighboring women and female family members would gather around the expectant mom to support her as she brought new life into the world. It wasn’t until the 20th century that birth migrated to hospitals. This happened as a result of anesthesia becoming available for women during childbirth.
Doctors were by far predominantly male at that point in time, too. This was a great disservice to women everywhere who went from relying on other women for support through birth to men who knew very little about it.
Sure, there are reasons that hospital births are necessary, and we shouldn’t discount the benefits of modern medicine. However, most pregnancies are not high risk, and most don’t require augmentation or surgery. Therefore, most can be safely delivered outside of a hospital environment.
And guess what? They’re just as safe birthing outside of the hospital as they are in it, and the risk of unnecessary interventions is practically non-existent.
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal analyzed the births of nearly 12,000 women who had home births and an equal number of those who had hospital births. There was no difference in serious adverse birth outcomes. However, there was a vast difference in intrapartum interventions.
As expected, all of such interventions were lower for home births. This tells us that births with fewer interventions still have positive outcomes. Something to think about before consenting to them.
13 Coached Pushing
Most women who are having babies in this day and age grew up seeing images of women giving birth on television and they were always flat on their backs in a hospital bed being told by the doctor when it was time to push.
The thing is, not only is the back one of the worst ways to push a baby out, but coached pushing is completely unnecessary and likely to cause more damage.
Women have been fooled into believing they need someone to tell them when they’re ready to have a baby. It’s simply not true. Your body will tell you. Listen to the cues! Pay attention, it will happen. You can surrender unto your own body and wait for the fetal ejection reflex to kick in.
Coached pushing actually leads to complications more often, such as prolonged pushing, maternal exhaustion, swelling of the cervix, and perineal tears. For those whose doctors or midwives still perform episiotomies, you’re much more likely to end up with one if your provider is telling you when to push than if you listen to your body and push when it tells you to.
Kindly note in your birth plan that you don’t need to be coached. It’s totally normal and your right to choose.
12 Continuous Fetal Monitoring
At some point in time, doctors decided they needed to overreach into women’s birth experiences so much that they supervise every single aspect right down to the heart rate of the baby. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with monitoring the little one. After all, we all want a safe and healthy baby at the end of each birth.
The problem is that fetal monitoring does not automatically have to be continuous for every momma.
In fact, continuous monitoring is more likely to pick up on decelerations and minor hiccups that may trigger doctors to push interventions that aren’t really necessary. In addition, continuous monitoring often keeps mom bedridden where she has to stay hooked up to a bunch of wiring.
If a facility and provider allows for portable monitoring, this may still impair the mother from engaging in the kind of birth she wants — particularly if she is pursuing a water birth. Although many don’t know it, you do not have to abide by this "rule."
11 Getting An Episiotomy
This was once a routine procedure that a lot of providers engaged in out of fear that their patients would tear during delivery. Now the episiotomy seems to slowly be on its way out. That being said, there are some midwives and doctors are still gung-ho about them.
Let’s get one thing straight. No woman should have an incision made in her crotch just in case the baby causes her to tear. These incisions can lead to severe discomfort for years to come. Some women have pain with bowel movements and sex for the rest of their lives.
Research has now proven that tears are actually better if a mom must suffer through one rather than receive an episiotomy. Tears heal better than episiotomies do! In addition, the likelihood of tearing can be greatly diminished if you engage in birthing the right way. Use gravity! Get out of bed. Do not birth on your back.
Squatting or birthing on your hands and knees are optimal positions to avoid tearing. Also, perineal massage leading up to and during delivery can also prevent tearing. No episiotomy necessary!
10 Eye Ointment For The Newborn
In the late 1800s, doctors started encouraging the routine use of antibiotic eye ointment in newborns. This was in an attempt to impede maternal infections of gonorrhea or chlamydia from being passed on to the babies, in which they could cause blindness in the newborn.
What is so harmful about an antibiotic? Why would anyone turn one down? Many people are under the assumption that antibiotics are helpful to us and carry no side effects. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
While they kill bad bacteria that cause infections, they also kill the good bacteria that we need to stay healthy. They strip the microbiome in the newborn baby thereby predisposing them to gut injury which can lead to everything from autoimmune disorders to bacteria. All because of an unnecessary antibiotic.
It’s a pretty big deal. If you don’t have an infection that Erythromycin can treat, you can safely opt out of this step at birth.
9 Pain Relief
Until pharmaceutical pain relief came along roughly a hundred years ago, women birthed babies for centuries without the use of any pain meds. They relied on meditation, hypnosis techniques, noise, positioning, and the support of other women to get them through. Many women are still doing the same thing today. There are many options for pain relief during labor that don’t involve opioids.
More and more women are opting out of IV meds and epidurals. They want to experience the high that a natural birth brings and they want to spare themselves and their babies the common side effects of opioids. These drugs are known to interfere with breastfeeding, increase the likelihood of postpartum mood disorders and more.
Unfortunately, as empowered as these women are who walk into their doctor’s offices confident that they will have a natural birth, doctors and nurses alike often scoff at these women and tell them they won’t be able to do it. If you’ve had this experience, don’t feel discouraged. Use their words to just inspire you further to accomplish your goals.
Natural birth is completely possibly and one of the most amazing events any woman can ever experience. I say that as someone who has done it. So, it’s obviously not impossible. Further proof doctors don’t know everything.
8 Ultrasound And Dopplers
There is some evidence to suggest there could be risks involved with getting multiple ultrasounds and Doppler scans during pregnancy. Sound waves are used to project the imagery and sound that we hear. While these can promote bonding, the full extent of what kind of damage can occur to developing babies in the womb who are exposed to it is only now being explored.
Even the Food and Drug Administration warns that ultrasounds and Dopplers should both only be used when medical necessity outweighs the risks of not using them. What does this mean? It means using a Doppler at every prenatal appointment isn’t necessary. After 20 weeks, ask your provider to use a fetoscope instead.
It also means ultrasounds aren’t necessary without a medical reason to peek at the baby. If there isn’t concern of specific issues, like placenta previa or intrauterine growth retardation, then excessive ultrasounds use should be abstained from. They can cause cavitation and excessive heating of the fetal tissues.
Other recent studies have also linked ultrasound use in the first trimester to the increase of autism symptoms severity in babies who already have the neuro-developmental disorder. Further research is needed on this issue.
7 Cervical Checks
This starts way before birth. The cervical checks. Women get close to the end of their pregnancies and eager family members and friends probably start to ask, “Are you dilated at all?” There’s nothing better than witnessing their reaction when you get to tell them you have no idea because you aren’t being checked.
I know, you want to know. You have to know. Bear with me a minute and get that notion out of your head. Did you know cervical checks can actually open you up to a greater likelihood of infection? They can also cause premature rupturing of your membranes, which can lead to the need for induction or a C-section.
Here’s the real clincher, most women don’t know that how dilated they are prior to going into labor has no impact on when they will go into labor. None. At. All. Being 42 weeks and 4 cm doesn’t mean you’re having the baby soon, just as being 37 weeks and not dilated at all doesn’t mean you won’t give birth tomorrow.
Women have walked around at 5 cm dilated for a month and women go into labor every day at 1 cm. How dilated a woman is has zero bearing on how fast she's progressing or when labor will happen. However, it can totally mess with your head and make you feel like you’re not progressing or not progressing fast enough.
Do yourself and the health of your baby a favor and bypass this step, too.
6 Glucose Testing
Yum! Very few women who have gone through pregnancy will ever forget the taste of the infamous glucola drink. Many women are unaware that they have the option to opt out of this test altogether. More and more doctors are open to this now as they are paying more attention to a woman’s symptoms and less attention to how she responds to a sugar-laden beverage that is full of all kinds of nasty things.
Speaking of that, do you know what’s in the glucola drink? For starters, it contains brominated vegetable oil, which has been linked to thyroid disorders, infertility and neurological disorders. Moms-to-be who are particularly wary of food dyes won’t be too happy to know glucola contains plenty of them.
If you have a provider who is insistent upon you doing the glucose test, you can agree but can replace that disgusting drink with something a little more favorable, like jelly beans. Another downside of opting in for glucose testing is that it has a 76 percent sensitivity rate.
That means 24 percent who have gestational diabetes will still test negative for it. In addition, about a quarter of women who test positive won’t actually have it. How’s that for efficacy?
5 Getting Induced
First, let’s be clear that there are legitimate reasons for induction when it is medically necessary. Such reasons include issues like fetal distress, maternal high blood pressure, and an extreme loss of amniotic fluid. Outside of legitimate medical reasons, elective inductions and those that are pushed for the wrong reasons are concerning.
Some doctors may imply babies are getting too big to be birthed vaginally and need to come out. Others will claim that babies who go over their due dates inherently need to be delivered. These are not medically supported reasons to induce and no credible research backs these claims.
So, can you refuse an induction? Absolutely! Elective inductions are also becoming common. Women are fooled into believing that it’s become the norm and there’s nothing wrong with it. This couldn’t be more untrue. When a baby’s lungs reach full maturity, they release a chemical called surfactant. This chemical triggers oxytocin to start flowing.
From there, oxytocin starts to make the uterus contract to start labor. In other words, if labor hasn’t started yet, it’s because the baby isn’t ready. This means your body isn’t ready, either.
Resist the urge to control your labor and your baby’s birth date. Remember that due dates are just a guess and only 5 percent of women deliver on them. Among first time mothers, 25 percent still haven’t delivered by 41 weeks and 2 days. Some pregnancies can take as long as 43 or 44 weeks to be complete. This really is normal.
Without confirmation of medical issues that warrant immediate delivery, babies should keep on cooking. Rely on evidence-based medicine and solid research, and you can’t go wrong.
4 Having Cesareans
C-sections certainly have their place in medicine, too. No one here is arguing that. Sometimes a baby is in distress and needs to come out right away. Sometimes, women spend days in labor without progression and it becomes obvious that the cervix is not going to dilate.
Here’s where things get tricky. Some hospitals might put a time limit on women, and if they don’t progress within two to three hours, they’ll tell them they aren’t going to. This isn’t true at all. Women who go into their births having researched this known better and are informed enough to refuse the recommendation for Cesareans after a few hours of not progressing.
C-sections are also often recommended when a baby appears to be large. What is large? Women have delivered babies are big as 13 pounds through their vaginas. Yet doctors try to insist that a 9-pound baby is too big to pass through the birth canal? If that were true, my youngest son wouldn’t be here.
Sometimes, women have had C-sections in the past and their doctors insist they will never be able to birth vaginally after that. Ladies, VBACs (vaginal birth after Cesarean) exist for a reason. Research and refuse. You can absolutely birth vaginally after having even multiple Cesareans!
3 Artificial Rupture Of fetal Membranes
Some doctors prefer to induce via rupturing the bag of waters. This is a home run for doctors because even if this doesn’t jump start contractions, you’re then on their clock and will pressure moms to have a C-section if labor doesn’t start on its own. Induction can be started with a Foley bulb, Cytotec or Cervidil, as well as Pitocin.
None of these methods require AROM to accompany them.
This intervention may sometimes be employed to help labor progress. However, labor doesn’t always need help progressing. It's normal for labor to last hours, even for a span of days. Intervening can cause problems of its own. AROM should only be done when moms are clearly well established in active labor.
Breaking the waters earlier can actually make labor more painful for mom, and can lead to fetal distress and cord compression, which may actually prolong labor. Thus, artificial rupturing of the membranes is not necessary and can be dangerous. Be empowered and opt out, mommas!
2 Vitamin K
This intervention applies more so to the baby at the time of birth than Mom. The vitamin K injection became a routine birth intervention in the late 1940s. It came to be after light was shed on cases of brain bleeding in neonates. It was around the same time that the rate of routine infant circumcision jumped from about 50 percent to around 90 percent.
It is thought by many medical professionals and parents alike that the underlying reasoning for this injection may actually be to combat hemorrhaging in infant males who undergo a circumcision procedure. It's a mandatory requirement among most doctors before they will perform a circumcision in the days after birth.
By the eighth day of life, infants have produced their own adequate reserves of vitamin K. The injection actually can lead to coagulation and thickening of the blood — which is what it aims to do — that impedes the progress of stem cells.
Many parents also opt out because they don’t see the need to inject anything containing aluminum and polysorbate 80 — a known heavy metal and carcinogen — into their baby when they can just give the baby oral vitamin K drops or increase vitamin K in the breastfeeding mother’s diet.
Other parents opt out because mom and/or dad are positive for MTHFR gene mutations, which means clotting is already a risk factor; no additive coagulants needed. Plus, aluminum is a bigger risk for MTHFR positive individuals. There you have it; lots of reasons parents opt of the vitamin K injection every day.
This applies to both Mom and baby. During the third trimester, your OB or midwife may recommend that you get the TDAP of flu vaccines. It is said that getting them during pregnancy will help the baby by passing immunity on to them in utero. However, there is limited research to support this claim.
Mostly the natural immunity has been confirmed to pass through to babies and only through breastmilk, some vaccines get passed through, but not all of them.
Vaccines have been tested for safety during pregnancy, but if you don't feel safe getting them, there's no harm in waiting until the baby is born to receive your shots. In fact, both the flu shot and the tetanus shot are linked to lowering cases of stillbirth and miscarriage in some cases according to Forbes.
Nasal vaccines don't contain aluminum or mercury, but multi-dose flu shots contain the preservative thimerosal which will break down into ethylmercury to prevent bacterial infection.