Language You Need to Look Out for in #Pregnancy and #Birth. #consentmatters #motherhood

In all my pregnancies and births, there’s been a recurring language theme:

“We’re just going to…”

This is a phrase that’s used by healthcare staff as a segue into some check, intervention, procedure, etc, and they say it right before or AS the procedure is being done.

There’s barely time to object let alone ask questions.

I’ve become acutely aware of this over the years and when I gave birth to my 7th baby in January, it was used at least 3 times that I can distinctly remember.

1: During my booking in appointment at the hospital, the midwife mentioned that I hadn’t had a specific blood test done and she said (literally as she was reaching for the request form), “So I’m just going to write up a bloods form for that.” I didn’t want or need this specific test and I was seasoned enough to know that I was in charge and responded, “Don’t worry about the form – I won’t be getting that one done.” To which she replied, “No problem.” And we moved on.

2: When I put my birth plan in at 38 weeks, the midwife said, “I’m just going to get you to come in next Friday so the doctor can sign off on this (physiological third stage).” She booked me the appointment. I had no intention of attending this but went in to labour the morning of the appointment anyway so it didn’t mattered.

3: When I was in the throes of labour, at a point where I could no longer even speak, a random doctor came into the birthing suite, threw on some gloves and said: “I’m just going to…” Thankfully, my midwife and husband were in my corner and told her a resounding NO. She took off the gloves and left.

Regardless of whether or not you’re ok with the procedure, saying “I’m just going to…” is NOT seeking consent. In fact, it’s a way to circumvent asking for consent. It’s a way to tell someone what you’re going to do without asking them for permission.

You have a right to say yes. You have a right to say no. You have a right to ask questions. You have a right to say “not right now.”

Any variation of “I’m just going to…” is not seeking consent.

I’ve experienced this numerous times over the past 18 years, from my very first ultrasound with baby number one, to cervical exams, to fetal monitoring, to blood tests.

Is this language use intentional? I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. Intentional or not, it doesn’t change the outcome. Consent matter.

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