Mother planning her birth experience.

Rebecca Dekker, PhD, started the excellent website, Evidence Based Birth®. Her premise is that evidence-based care is in the gray area where research evidence, clinical expertise, and the patient’s values overlap. Or, as she says, it’s like a three-legged stool.

There is no single “right way” to give birth. By looking at quality research evidence on the options during birth, trusting a provider to help navigate those options in a very personal way, and understanding that every woman has unique perspectives and priorities for her birth, new families can truly get “evidence-based” care.

What You Should Ask When Making Birth Choices 

How can expectant parents approach birth most effectively? It all starts with good communication. Patients should feel comfortable and empowered to ask questions and get the information needed to make informed choices.

  • What are the benefits? (Why is an option being presented?)

  • What are the risks? (What will the impact on me/my baby/my labor be?)

  • What are my alternatives? (Is there another way to achieve the same result?)

  • What if I say no? (Or what if I say “not now?” Or “could we revisit the idea in an hour or two?” Or “could I have a few minutes to talk it over with my partner?”)

  • Does this feel right to me? (Is it consistent with my preferences? What does my instinct tell me?)

Trust Between Parents and Providers

Of course, this good decision-making also relies on having a trusting relationship with a provider. It’s important to share values and preferences with providers so there’s context for the patient’s choices. Ideally, this conversation begins early in pregnancy. Let your provider know if you have strong feelings about any aspect of the birth experience and take the time to make sure your views are heard and considered.