Knowing your rights as a mother of a newborn baby

Updated: Jun 22, 2019


No one can make you feel guilty, intimidated or coerced if you decline or refuse to provide informed consent. You have the right to hold and have your baby with you or close to you, for as long as you wish in the absence of an emergency. It is advisable for you to know your baby's Apgar Score at 1 minute, 5 minutes and if repeated 10 minutes. Your baby does not have to be injected with Vitamin K or vaccinated immediately following birth. These are not emergency/urgent procedures. When and if these procedure(s) are to be performed, should be based on your informed decision.

Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities for your yourself and your baby is imperative to making informed decisions. Consent is being informed of the pros, cons, possible complications and alternatives so that you have the right to accept, decline, refuse or change your mind at anytime. Informed consent is binding, so that's why it's important to have the right information. It's okay to request that details be repeated until you are satisfied you understand.

It is extremely important to understand what drug(s) are being recommended and you have the right to ask why, where, how long, any known side effects and possible consequences.​

It is your right to seek another opinion.

Your informed consent is essential in the case where urgent or emergency drugs or procedures are deemed necessary in the circumstances. In these situations it is preferable if you or your chosen other does remain in contact with your baby.

With your informed consent, non-urgent drugs, vaccinations or medications recommended for you or your baby can be administered at a time when you agree. The details of time, place, date, type of drug, route of administration, signature of persons prescribing and administering, together with post administration observations are recorded and a copy should be provided to you.

You have the right to decline/refuse or withhold routine procedures. For example, the procedure electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) is regarded a routine procedure on admission to most hospitals. Regardless of policy, this routine procedure is not binding (unless there is an indication of urgency), therefore you have the right to decline. Other non-restrictive options to regularly listen to the baby’s heart rate can be explained and offered.

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Dr Robyn Thompson

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