Doctors and other people who provide you with medical care may only perform a medical procedure on you or your child if you have given your written consent. This also applies to childbirth and the period shortly afterwards. The exception to this is emergencies and situations where a decision must be made very quickly to save your life and that of your child. In all other cases, your doctor or midwife must have informed you about the reason, the aim and the possible risks of the treatment before the procedure. They should also give you information on other possible treatments. They also have to tell you what the consequences will be if you don't have the particular procedure done. This must also be put in writing and signed. Before the birth, you can use the appointments with your doctor or midwife to discuss what is important to you during the birth. Your doctor and midwife can then tell you what advantages or disadvantages certain measures have for you. If an intervention becomes necessary during birth but was not foreseeable beforehand, you’ll get information during the preparations for the intervention.
Medical interventions can be very different. It makes a difference if the intervention has to do with your baby getting eye drops or you having a c-section. Verbal consent is sufficient for the eye drops. Before a caesarean section, however, as with other operations, your written consent is required. In order for you to make an informed decision, you will first be informed verbally about the advantages and disadvantages and possible complications from the procedure. You will then be presented with a document in which the procedure and the possible risks are explained in detail. With your signature you confirm that you have been informed and that you consent to the procedure. However, there are situations in which every minute counts and there is no time for longer explanatory talks. That's why it's a good idea to ask your doctor or midwife to explain the most common procedures that might be necessary before the birth. If you have any questions about this, you can also ask them during childbirth preparation courses or in the office hours at your maternity clinic.
Your doctor or midwife can often assess whether a medical intervention might be necessary before you give birth. If this is the case, you can state your wishes in advance when you register at the hospital. All people who provide you with medical care must inform you about the benefits, risks and possible alternatives of planned procedures. The decision for or against is always yours. For procedures such as a planned caesarean section, you can usually take at least one day to think about it.
For medical reasons, sometimes a quick decision is important when giving birth. If this is the case, they will explain to you during the preparations for the procedure what the doctors think the right treatment is. It helps some pregnant people to find out in advance what situations may occur. The advantage of this is that you can then calmly consider, and if necessary discuss with your partner, which interventions you would agree to in a particular case and which you would not. Examples include opening the amniotic sac, anaesthesia with an epidural, an episiotomy, or the use of a or forceps. It may also be that it only becomes apparent during the birth that a caesarean section is necessary. Interventions during childbirth also include various methods of inducing labour and managing pain. Your doctor or midwife can give you more detailed information.