Being Your Own Birth Advocate

Being Your Own Birth Advocate

Erin Burt


Our country’s attitudes toward birth rights are rapidly changing, and this is true in my home state as well. My husband and I had compromised that I would birth my babies in a hospital (this pacified his fears after his younger brother and mom almost died during birth) and I would use a midwife to do so. This worked beautifully for my first three deliveries. But, as I said, laws and attitudes are constantly changing, and now that I am 17 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby, there are not any midwives delivering in hospitals where I live. So I am getting ready to birth in a hospital with an OBGYN for the first time.

Interview for your doctor like you would any other service professional. For my very first appointment at only ten weeks pregnant, I knew I wanted to be up front about my expectations. I had asked doula friends as well as my midwife for recommendations for OBGYNs that practiced like midwives. Give yourself a few options. Once I found an OB, I decided to come prepared.

I asked a litany of questions. I asked how she felt about inducing before term. I asked about how comfortable she was with doulas in the room. I asked about her feelings on c-sections, delayed clamping, episiotomies, etc. Could I eat during labor? These were things I never felt the need to address with my midwife, but I wanted to be perfectly clear with my OB up front.

I showed her my birth plan from previous pregnancies. I also described my previous deliveries. I wanted her to know my history.

I reminded myself that I was the patient. So often, we assume that since the doctor went to school for this, they know more than we do and they know better than we do. But, YOU ARE THE PATIENT. If the doctor wants to do something you are uncomfortable with, as long as it doesn’t harm you or your baby, you have the choice to decline or get a second opinion.

At the end of the day, you are the mother. It’s significantly easier to advocate for yourself and the type of birth you prefer before you go into labor (speaking from experience here!) Do your research and never be afraid to ask questions. You aren’t annoying the doctor and, if you feel like you are, maybe you should switch to an OB who has more patience for your birth preferences.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at

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