Decision-Making in Pregnancy

Asian doctor and woman
Pregnancy usually proceeds along smoothly and without complications. However, if complications arise during your pregnancy, your health care provider may need to discuss diagnostic and treatment options with you. If you have been seeing a midwife or family physician, she may need to refer you to an obstetrician to take over your prenatal care.

Your health care provider will outline the benefits and risks associated with each approach. She will suggest the treatment that, in her opinion, is most appropriate for you and your unborn baby. You have the right to complete information about every possible option, even if they are experimental.

Write down the information as your health care provider discusses it with you. It may be quite complicated. Having it written down means you can reflect on it later, when you're better able to absorb the information. It also helps to learn as much about the diagnostic procedure or treatment as possible. Do research about it at the library; gather brochures and books from support organizations; search this and other reputable Web sites; and talk to people who have experienced something similar. Many people find that knowing more helps them to cope with what is happening.

The final decision about diagnostic procedures and treatment is up to you. If you don’t understand the options, ask as many questions as it takes. In most cases, there will be time to think this over and make a decision.

Keep in mind that you have the right to refuse diagnostic procedures and treatment, and you have the right to a second opinion. Some people are comfortable with their health care provider's recommendation, while others want to hear another expert opinion. When you agree to the diagnostic procedure or treatment, you will need to confirm your consent by filling out a consent form.

Nicolette Caccia, MEd, MD, FRCSC

Rory Windrim, MB, MSc, FRCSC