Mary, an internationally-respected midwife who will no doubt be known to many readers, has this advice for women who are worried that midwives or doctors will not treat them with due respect:
I am sure that many others will explain your absolute right to refuse any procedure for any or no reason. The law, and good practice, is quite clear. A sensible person will listen carefully to any explanations to why a procedure is proposed, and then should she choose not to have XY or Z she just says "no" or "no thank you". The "allowing" is done by YOU.
An asssertive approach is worth cultivating. You may care to commit the following phrases to memory and practice them frequently in front of a mirror.
- "Thank you so much Midwife Sinister/ Mr Hi-an-my-tee, for your advice. We will consider this carefully and let you know our decision." Sweet Smile!
This one is most useful in the antenatal stage, though it can be used in labour. It can just take a minute to consider what you either want to know, or what you decide.
- "Would you like to reconsider what you have just said!" Fierce glare.
This is useful and, for example, applies to the misuse of the word "allow".
- "I do not believe you can have heard what I have just said. Shall I repeat myself? "
- "I am afraid I will have to regard any further discussion as harrassment."
This is used if the person does not respect your decision or persists in pressing the subject.
- "What is your NMC or GMC pin number?"
This is used if the last one is ineffective. If the person asks why you want their pin number, inform them that this is something they might like to consider.
- "STOP THIS AT ONCE".
This to be used in extremis. I am delighted to tell you that this was used AGAINST me by a woman to whom I had taught it. I was doing a difficult VE and was being too persistent. I stopped at once and learnt a lesson.
Do not argue; learn the phrases and keep them or similar for use if necessary. I am informed that it is usually only necessary to be assertive once or twice to have a much more respectful attitude from the people who are actually your professional SERVANTS.