Speak Powerfully and Get What You Want (in labor & beyond)

Doula Julia’s Key Self Advocacy Skills for Childbirth

-embody a person you know who is very skillful and pleasant about stating their needs

-use language powerfully – say “I plan to,” “I expect,” or “I’d like to” 
(NOT “can I…?” or “will they let me…?”)

-distinguish “no biggies,” things big but not important to overtly address, and things that deserve negotiation

-your caregivers are human – appeal to the human side more than the clinical

-proactively do things that will make your caregivers comfortable, so that you feel more appropriate doing things you want (ie – suggest monitors when convenient for you)


-PRACTICE asking for something specific of family members, people in stores, on a bus, etc. on the day before an important conversation with your care provider

-at meetings dress your best, stand tall, maintain eye contact, try not to fidget, giggle, or apologize, allow for silence in the air if your question hasn’t been answered or more can be said. Practice positive body language in the mirror, it is an acquired skill

-In labor, state your need for a private moment to think about your decisions

-play with the lights in the room and open the cabinets, wheel around the furniture until it feels right to you, look around, so you feel an ownership of the space


-do the things that feel right without asking permission


-say it is because of your spiritual/cultural beliefs


-bring someone with you to “the important conversation” meetings, and the birth

-assume your own basic “rightness” (you are the expert on the sensations you feel)

By Julia Mannes, CD(DONA), CLC, RYT, MOM

One further note on self-advocacy:
It’s easy to hear one compelling concern and get focused on it, but considering the rest of this context helps you get out of a frozen place of fear and into a dynamic place of thoughtfulness and trust.
Always ask yourself, when an intervention is suggested: What are the present risks? How likely are the risks to manifest and how serious or not serious would they be? How likely is the treatment to fix what we are concerned about?  What are the benefits of not doing the treatment? What are the risks of the treatment?  How likely are the treatment’s risks to manifest and how serious would they be? What are the alternatives?  Have we considered doing nothing as an alternative? How time-sensitive is this decision? 

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