Informed Decision Making in Your Pregnancy
Why is it important for me to be actively involved in decision-making about my maternity care?Being pregnant may feel like an awesome responsibility, but the more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to make informed decisions about your pregnancy and birth with confidence. The decisions you make and the care that you receive can have lasting effects on the health and well being of your baby, yourself, and your family. Therefore, it is important that you understand the benefits and risks of any procedures, drugs, tests, or treatments that are recommended to you during pregnancy, labor and birth. Your health care provider is responsible for explaining why the type of care is being recommended, what it involves, and the risks and benefits of the care for both you and your baby. Your health care provider should also tell you about alternatives to the care being recommended and their risks and benefits. You have the right to accept or refuse procedures, drugs, tests, or treatments, and to have your choices honored. The Rights of Childbearing Women, on this website, provides a list of your legal rights.
Making informed decisions about maternity care means getting the best information possible, thinking about your values and preferences, and then deciding what's right for you, your baby, and your family.
Key questions about informed decisions:
How do I know I'm pregnant?Many women claim that they can sense emotionally when they are pregnant. Others wait for the time-honored sign of pregnancy – a missed menstrual period. Most women will notice pregnancy symptoms about three weeks after conception (that is, after their egg is fertilized). Your body will let you know you're pregnant through the following signs:
Prenatal CareGetting early and regular prenatal care is one of the best things that you can do to help ensure your baby is born healthy. It is wise to see a health care provider as soon as you suspect that you may be pregnant. If you are not already pregnant but plan on trying to get pregnant, see a health care provider for a pre-pregnancy visit.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality and value of maternity care through consumer engagement and health system transformation. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
News and Features
Listening to MothersSM III is the third national survey exploring women’s experiences in pregnancy and childbirth. Commissioned by Childbirth Connection, conducted by Harris Interactive, and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the survey polled 2,400 women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals from 2011 to 2012. Results show that medically intensive experiences are typical, and evidence-based practices are underutilized. Childbearing women need better support and knowledge to navigate their maternity care.
Access the full report and supplementary materials
New Report: Maternity Care and Liability
Go to report and supporting materials
New Report: The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States
Go to report and supporting materials
New Cesarean Resources:
Go to Best Evidence Report
Go to web pages and booklet for women
For 95 years, Childbirth Connection has been dedicated to improving the quality and value of maternity care for all women and their families. Learn more about our rich history through our interactive timeline and give $95 for 95 in honor of our 95th birthday.
Childbirth Connection works to ensure that all women and babies get the best possible maternity care. We have the collective vision and we know how to get there, but we can't do it alone. Join the transformation today.
The Transforming Maternity Care website focuses on maternity care system improvements designed to engage diverse stakeholders in quality improvement efforts. The site offers full access to the landmark reports 2020 Vision and Blueprint for Action, features a Blog, and other resources such as an Action Center, a database of quality improvement projects, an interactive data center, and many more tools for advocates and stakeholders.