How to never feel alone when you are advocating for yourself & your baby during medical care
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Advocating for yourself can help tremendously during the perinatal process, like remembering that you have choices and a voice! However, self-advocacy is often easier said than done.
I encourage clients to remember that advocating for yourself is an interpersonal process. Meaning, you are always going to be advocating for your needs with another person (who is human). Well-meaning medical providers may use unfamiliar language, seem impatient, or forget to make eye contact. The culture around medical care sets up a dynamic where providers hold the “expert” role and sometimes that makes us forget providers are also people who we can stop and ask questions. This can be particularly difficult when we are advocating for ourselves and our bodies.
Remember that when you are advocating for yourself or asking more questions, you are not alone. The people around you (your family, friends, baby, and even your provider) all believe that your perspective is valuable. A few strategies for increasing your self-advocacy skills during medical care is to 1) Prepare, 2) Slow down, and 3) Debrief.
Prepare - Write down questions in advance to appointment. Review these questions with a close person to practice asking them & see if they have more questions to add.
Slow Down - Give yourself permission to slow down or stop the appointment by asking questions or clarifying language that was used. There can be a lot of waiting to be seen for appointments so we may also feel eager to hurry up and get it over with, and then end up feeling confused or frustrated after the fact. Give yourself some time to get a clear answer and plan of action.
Debrief - It is never too late to get more answers or shift your opinion. Even if there isn’t much change that can happen, talking about an appointment or something that happened during the appointment is helpful for us to understand how to better advocate for ourselves or our babies in the future.