Using Your Voice

While doctors and other providers are trusted professionals, you know your body best — trust your instincts! If something seems wrong or feels off, it is in your best interest to speak up for a safe and comfortable pregnancy.

  • That you have the right to make informed choices in pregnancy, birth, and as a parent.
  • How to advocate for something that is important to you when talking to your provider about your options.
  • The importance of support from a partner, loved one, or doula when advocating for your preferences.
Download the Chapter Transcript
English Spanish
What To Do Next

Explore and learn more.

Featured Birth Workers
View More Chapters
Terms in this Chapter
Advocate (noun)

someone who speaks up or asks questions on behalf of themselves or someone else

Advocate (verb)

to speak up or ask questions on behalf of yourself or someone else

B.R.A.I.N. technique

an acronym that stands for Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Instinct, or (do) Nothing. Designed to help birthing people explore their options when facing medical decisions.

Birth center

a home-like facility that is not a hospital where healthy people with low-risk pregnancies can give birth in the midwifery model of care

Birth plan

a plan listing the birthing individual’s preferences during labor, such as medical interventions, options for pain relief, and labor positions

Birth worker

someone who is professionally trained to be a resource for information about pregnancy and childbirth who also cares for the well-being of pregnant people; a general term that usually includes midwives, doctors, and nurses who care for birthing people as well as supportive team members such as doulas or lactation consultants

Birthing person

the person who will give birth to the baby. See also birthing person; pregnant person

Care plan

a plan for a person’s pregnancy, labor/birth, and/or postpartum period that lists services, tests, education, and interventions that will be provided and incorporates the birthing individual’s preferences for their care and their baby’s care

Cesarean birth

a surgical procedure (used instead of vaginal birth) to deliver a baby by cutting into the abdomen and the uterus. Also known as a C-section

Culturally aligned care

care that honors and integrates a person’s cultural identity and preferences, provided by people who share the culture or are knowledgeable and respectful of the culture


a trained professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support before, during and shortly after birth (birth doula) or in the postpartum period (postpartum doula). Doulas with full-spectrum training may also support people during and after pregnancy loss or abortion. Doulas do not have medical training, are not medically licensed, and do not provide medical advice.


happening during pregnancy or related to pregnancy


to intentionally start the birthing process by using medications or devices instead of your body’s and baby’s physiological processes, to begin labor. An induced labor is also called induction.

Informed consent

a process where the birthing individual gives permission or chooses a decision based on the principle that they have all the information they need from their healthcare provider prior to making that decision. Informed consent involves a discussion around the benefits, risks and alternatives of procedures or medical actions you are asked to agree to.

Informed refusal

a process where the birthing individual refuses treatment or services based on the principle that they have all the information they need from their healthcare provider prior to making that decision

Labor position

a way to position yourself during labor or to give birth, such as standing, side-lying, squatting, and kneeling


making milk in the breasts, and/or feeding a baby from the chest.


around the time of birth


a medication, chemically the same as the hormone oxytocin, used to cause or strengthen contractions at the time of childbirth


after childbirth


before birth / during pregnancy


a trained healthcare professional who diagnoses patients and provides treatment. Includes doctors, midwives, nurse practitioners, and physicians assistants.


speaking up for yourself, your needs and your desires so you can make informed decisions and have your decisions respected

Shared decision making

when a provider and a patient work together to make a health care decision that is best for the patient. The optimal decision takes into account evidence-based information about options, the provider’s knowledge and experience, and the patient’s values and preferences.

Support people

anyone in the pregnant person’s life whose purpose is to physically or emotionally support them


a process where you enter a relaxed and focused state and give yourself positive suggestions to help power through a difficult situation


the area between the vagina and the anus


strong medication offered for pain relief


OB is short for obstetrician and GYN is short for gynecologist. An obstetrician is a healthcare professional who delivers babies and provides pregnancy-related care, while a gynecologist is a healthcare professional who specializes in vaginal care and reproductive health

Nitrous oxide

medicine you breathe in for pain relief and relaxation. Also known as “laughing gas”


an acronym that stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a location in some hospitals where babies who need special medical attention can receive it


a way of being that helps you slow down, observe your emotions, and be more aware of your thoughts and feelings.


a licensed healthcare professional trained to provide reproductive and primary care including care during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Midwives specialize in low-risk pregnancies and well-person care, and may collaborate with physicians and other healthcare providers in the care of people who need advanced medical care or surgery.


IV is short for “intravenous” which means in your veins. Tubes or needles can be put into your veins at medical facilities to provide food, fluids or medicine when needed.


a medicine injected through the birthing person’s back into a space near the spine to numb the pain of childbirth. Once an epidural is given, the birthing individual generally does not have feeling in the lower half of their body.


when a provider makes a cut to widen the opening of your vagina for a difficult birth

Cord clamping

putting a clamp on the baby’s umbilical cord after birth before cutting the cord to separate the baby from the placenta. Also known as umbilical cord clamping.