Coercive language during pregnancy and birth 

Coercion meaning: The practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats. Coercion is compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner. It involves a set of various types of forceful actions that violate the free will of an individual to induce a desired response.

Coercion during pregnancy and birth is something that is very common and done subtly to support a medically managed birth. If you do not want your birth to be medically managed and you want to manage your own birth, then you should know how to spot and deal with medically coercive language. 

There are three types of coercive language – 

Emotional coercion, examples: 
We just want a healthy baby.
We don’t want you to be in pain.
Do you not want a healthy baby?
If it was me/my wife/my daughter I would want X, Y, Z. 

Non-evidence based coercion, examples: 
Your baby is big.
Your pelvis is too small. 
Because of your age, you need X, Y. Z.
Your chances of X, Y, Z will double if you go past your due date. 
The changes of X, Y, Z will increase.
Anything that makes you feel backed into a corner.
If you’re made to feel bad about a choice you make or do not make. 

Threatening coercion:
If you’re told you’re not allowed something.
We know what we are doing, we’re experts.
You cannot X, Y, Z until you have an internal examination.
You are not allowed to X, Y, Z. 
You need to X, Y, Z or you will harm your baby. 
Your placenta will die.
You cannot have pain relief until you X, Y, Z. 

How to manage coercive language during pregnancy and birth: 

Question everything! Use your BRAIN by asking: 

Benefits – what are the benefits of what is being proposed? 

Risks – what are the risks of what is being proposed? 

Alternatives – are there alternatives to what is being proposed? 

Instincts – What do you feel? It’s your body and baby and your instinct and birth partner’s instincts matter more than anything. 

Nothing – It is totally fine for you to do nothing. You do not have to do anything that is proposed to you. 

A large part of The Positive Birth Group’s courses is to help you manage your medical team to achieve the birth experience you want. Too often you only have one side of the story, working with The Positive Birth Group and training in hypnobirthing will help you understand all evidence, know what choices are available to you, and spot and deal with coercive language. 

To book a course or find out more: