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.
© 2013 Childbirth Connection. All rights reserved.
Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010