You’ve probably heard this phrase at some point during your pregnancy. If you aren’t quite sure what it means and why it’s important, we’re going to take a few minutes to break it down for you.
Here are the key components of informed consent:
- Explanation of treatments and procedures: What exactly is the procedure and how does it work?
- A thorough explanation of the risks associated with the procedure and the expected benefits. Are there consequences if we agree to it and it doesn’t work out the way it’s meant to? What happens if we decline the procedure?
- A discussion regarding potential alternatives and their risks and benefits.
In short, this means that you are given all the available information so that you can make a decision that is most appropriate for you. You’re in charge of making the ultimate decision. Care providers are there to facilitate the conversation, weighing in with evidence-based information and their experience but should respect the right of bodily autonomy.
Informed consent, informed declination, and shared decision making are a crucial part of safe and respectful reproductive care, and it’s important that you get to take an active role in this.
Of course, every provider will have limitations and has the right to decline to perform any treatment that doesn’t align with their personal and professional boundaries. For example: if you wish to decline glucose tolerance testing because you don’t want to drink Glucola – your provider may voice that they aren’t comfortable with not knowing. They offer daily monitoring at home with finger pricks, as an alternative. When something like this occurs, it’s sometimes misinterpreted as fear mongering, but in all actuality, it’s a professional boundary and boundaries are allowed. You have the information and can use that to make a decision that works for you, whatever that may be. This is an example of shared decision making.
Manipulation and coercion should never occur and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns if you feel like that’s happening. Just like the care provider, you have the right to have boundaries. An open and respectful dialogue with your provider is incredibly important.