Throughout your pregnancy, during birth and after birth, you will be given many different options to consider. Many of the options are considered standard and they may not always be presented to you in a way that offers another choice. It is good to remember that anytime your care provider is advising a particular screening, test, management or treatment (advice) – you can always ask for more information about what is being recommended and why.
Before any medical advice can be acted on, you must give your consent. This is true for any person seeking medical care. If you choose to decline, your care provider cannot start the recommended advice unless you later decide to consent. It is your decision what medical treatments you allow (or don’t allow). This is why an understanding of informed choice is so important.
What this means for you:
Essentially, informed choice is agreeing to or declining recommended medical advice, after you have had a detailed discussion with your care provider. When talking about your options, you should understand why the advice is recommended, what the risks and benefits are and any possible alternatives. A good way to make sure you get this is by using the BRAIN acronym:
B – what are the Benefits?
R – what are the Risks?
A – what are the Alternatives
I – what is your Intuition/Instinct?
N – what if you Need more time (delay treatment) or do Nothing?
Usually when an option is given, the choice you make will determine future care. For example, choosing option A now will lead to options C and D later on. If you decide on B now, your future options may be D and E. Sometimes, working backwards can be a good way to make a decision on current options.
Ultimately, the choice to accept or decline medical recommendation is your decision. It is the responsibility of care providers to give you comprehensive information and answer your questions, and it is your responsibility to make a decision and accept the outcome of your choice.
*Informed choice does not extend to care providers giving care that they believe is unsafe or is out of their scope of practice. For example, your care provider can decline your request of an induction for social (non-medical) reasons.