Who Is The Expert?

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

Midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, paediatricians, GPs, hypnobirthing teachers, massage therapists, breastfeeding counsellors. They are all experts in their field of work. They know their stuff. They can effectively support you throughout your pregnancy, birth and parenthood. Their knowledge is based on what they have been taught in theory, experiences in practice through caring for other people and their own assumptions and beliefs. This is all well and good. We should be aiming for evidence based practice, which theoretically is what our caregivers are providing.


We put our trust in them. Their knowledge, experience and expertise. We listen to their recommendations and generally implement them without question. They know best, right?


Maybe. Their expertise is likely to be sound. What they are saying is hopefully based on evidence. However, are they portraying the evidence in a way that is likely to scare you? Are they providing balanced information? Is it outdated? Have they seen something happen to another woman, that has altered their perception of care? Are they taking into consideration YOU as a person? Are you a statistic? Are they listening to you entirely? Not only listening, but processing the information and responding accordingly?


Hopefully.


However. They can only base their care and recommendations on evidence and personal experience. They can't say what will happen to you specifically. Although the evidence says XYZ, you may or may not follow suit. This is why you must consider things for yourself and do what feels instinctively right, whilst considering the benefits, risks and alternatives.


For example. Your midwife tells you the 'baby is small'. You are 5ft 1 and were a 6lb baby yourself. You have a scan. The sonographer tells you 'the baby is small'. Ok. You go to the obstetrician and they tell you its best to be induced early because the baby is small and that can cause all sorts of problems in labour. You'll have another scan in a few weeks to check. Nothing else is 'wrong'. You feel like the baby is a good size for you and would prefer not to be induced if things are still ok, but feel pushed into it.


You realise that you would NEVER do anything to put your baby at risk and this is why you go with the doctors recommendation, but it still doesn't sit right with you. Baby is eventually born and weighs 7lb 5oz. Not really small at all. It was a hard induction and you feel you should have listened to your instincts.


Things to Consider:

  • What feels right for you?

  • What is the evidence behind this?

  • Is the baby otherwise well? Can I have further monitoring to check, instead of being induced?

  • Are scans even accurate? The margin of error for weight is 15% either side...


You are the expert in you and your baby. Yes, medical advice obviously comes into it and I would always recommend creating a plan with your caregiver before politely declining anything offered to you. However, do not take anything at face value. This is important and you should always be in control. You are entitled to choice in maternity care.

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