Talking to a professional about birth, yourself and/or your baby can be hard:
We have all been there; you’re in a medical appointment when pregnant, or even in labour and things start swirling as your midwife or doctor talks to you about something that needs to happen. You know something doesn’t feel right but you stay quiet as the confidence to speak up has left you.
I have lost count of the times parents have said to me, “I wished I had asked this question”, or “I felt like I had no choice, I wish I had spoken up”. It can be so hard to take in medical information about you and your baby, reflect on it, know how you feel and then respond the way you would like to.
Some of us simply find it easier to say how we feel about something than others; it is the way it is.
During pregnancy (and birth and postnatally) decisions need to be made about you, your body and your baby. You need to be able to join these discussions.
Here are a few tips on how to plan for these conversations and situations:
- Write a list before you go to any appointment. A list about what has been worrying you, what you feel you don’t know enough about and/or what you would like explained better.
- TAKE THE LIST IN THE APPOINTMENT WITH YOU! Ha ha! You know you’ve all scored 5 stars for leaving your lists behind, but don’t do it with this one. Have it in your hand.
- Tell your midwife/doctor at the beginning of the appointment that you find it hard to take on information, make decisions and voice your feelings in appointments. Be open at the beginning so the professional knows and can ask you at the end “Is there something that I can clarify for you?”. The people who care for us are generally awesome human beings and if they know you struggle they will support you.
- Tell them you have a list because you want to make sure you understand everything properly, so they too know you will have things they need to address.
- If it’s during birth, making a list can be a bit harder. I suggest you have your own little notepad/book that you and your birth partner complete together. It could include your worries, fears, things that you would like more info on etc. Plan between you how you will communicate to each other that things need to take a pause so you can ask the professionals some questions. Look up my post on the B.R.A.I.N acronym, it’s super helpful to rehearse this together and know what you or your partner will need to stop and ask questions about. Preparation is key.
- If all this even seems like a stretch, the best piece of advice I can give is to recognise when you have been triggered. Go right back to basics. During the conversation with the professional are you suddenly feeling anxious (heart beating faster, breathing differently, becoming hyper alert, feeling close to tears or even angry). If this happens then it’s likely something has happened or been said that has made you feel uncomfortable. At this moment you can say to the professional ‘I am sorry but I am feeling very anxious and I think I need a few minutes to breath and take on board what you have said before I can carry on’. They will listen to you. They have to. Give yourself some space to sit with your feelings. Hopefully you will be able to connect to what it is that you want to ask more about or challenge.
It’s really tough to manage this sort of situation, go easy on yourself. Apart from critical mid-birth situations, you can always go back to the professionals afterwards and say you have questions or feel unhappy about something. You won’t regret speaking up. You will regret staying quiet.