Making informed choices

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By Yvette Julian-Arndt

The definition of a good decision according to Childbirth International is “one that works for the person making the decision at the time the decision was made, the person is able to take responsibility for it and understand the basis on which it was made”.

You may make decisions in a very scientific way, weighing up all the facts and the pros and cons, or you may use your instincts and base it on your emotions and how you feel. There is no right or wrong way however, understanding and working towards an ‘Informed Choice”, a term often used in healthcare, can help you to feel confident that you have made the right one.

It is important to remember that though we greatly value a health professional’s incredible knowledge and experience, it is not their job to tell you what to do.  It is to give you ALL the information in an unbiased way so that YOU can decide what happens next. No hospital policy, routine procedure or intervention is law. You always have the right to ask questions and/or say no.  True informed choice occurs when clients and care providers engage in open, honest communication about the range of options that exist.

By using the letters of I.N.F.O.R.M.E.D  C.H.O.I.C.E we can follow a thorough decision making process and feel empowered that we have stayed at the centre of our experiences.

It can be used when making decisions about antenatal screening, pregnancy complications or birth options and planning.  It can help you stay in control if things take an unexpected turn in labour or be used if testing and treatment is needed for your baby.  And it is also a guide that can be applied to make the best choices for yourself or your child all throughout life.

{I} INFORMATION

What do I know about the situation, issue or circumstance? Is there a problem? If so, what exactly is it?

{N} NEED MORE

Do I understand what is going on or do I need to ask more questions? If you are having trouble, ask for it to be explained again in simpler language. Ask questions like: “Is my baby ok, am I ok?” “What is your policy or usual protocols with this situation?” “What does the latest research or best evidence-based practice suggest?”  Think about whether you want or need to do more research or get a second opinion.

{F} FEELINGS

How do I feel about what I have been told or what is happening? Do I feel calm, panicked, suspicious, annoyed, bullied, confident, listened to or respected?

{O} OPTIONS

ALWAYS find out ALL of your options, not just one.  Ask questions like: “What are my options?” “Where can we go from here?” “Is that all of them?” “Are there any alternatives?”

{R} RISKS and BENEFITS

Most importantly you need to find out the risks and benefits for ALL options.
You can ask: “What are the risks for me?  What are the risks for my baby? What are the benefits of doing what you are suggesting? And what if I decide to wait or do nothing?”

{M} MOMENT ALONE

Next, ask for some time alone to consider your options. Take a few minutes/hours/days depending on the situation to compose yourself so you can think rationally and clearly.

{E} EVALUATE

Compare the risks and benefits of the different options you have been given or found and consider how comfortable you feel with the different choices. Think about which combination of risks and/or benefits you are leaning towards.

{D} DISCUSS

Talk openly with your partner about your thoughts and feelings or confer with other trusted people.

{C} CONSIDER

Consider any original thoughts or ideals. For example birth preferences or goals. Think about how the different options match with your core beliefs and values.

{H} HOW IMPORTANT NOW

How important are those things now considering the current situation?  What is most vital to you right now?  How do you think you will feel later with or without these things?

{O} OTHER WISHES

Are there some other ways that will still help you honour what you originally wanted. For example what else can still be followed on your birth plan, even if some things can’t?  Are there some other ways that will still help you feel like you are on the right path?

{I} INTUITION/INSTINCT

What is my gut telling me to do?

{C} CHOICE/COMMUNICATE/CONFIDENCE

Make the final decision about what you will do and communicate this to your care provider explaining why you have chosen the option you have. Always do it with confidence especially if it isn’t what they are suggesting, and back it up with research if you can.

{E} EMPOWERED

Feel proud and own it!  You have taken control of your body, your baby, your parenting journey. Know that whatever path you have decided to take, you have made a voluntary, well-considered decision on the basis of options, accurate information and understanding.

This is all going to lead to positive feelings, confidence and have you rocking your role as a parent!


Yvette Julian-Arndt is a mum to two gorgeous boys and with her husband loves living on the Mornington Peninsula. As the owner of Project Birth, she is passionate about educating and inspiring couples for this life changing event and runs The Positive Birth Course in Frankston. 

Find out more at www.projectbirth.com.au or join her on Facebook and Instagram for more great labour and birth tips.

Peninsula Kids – Spring 2019

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