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You Can Say NO to Your Doctor – 5 Standards We Refuse in the Womb

Say no to Doc 5 Standards to Refuse in the Womb

To be a good parent, you’ll quickly find that you have to say “NO” an awful lot.

I was surprised to find when first pregnant that the fine art of NO actually starts well before the child even leaves the confines of the womb and has nothing to do with discipline.

If you want to naturally parent your child (which of course starts even before conception), you’re going to be a bit counter-cultural and end up saying NO to doctors quite a bit. Just hope they don’t throw tantrums like your eventual 1-year-old will. Smile

Take heart – I have a list of my Top 10 Baby Steps to take as you move towards real food living. Whether you want to get healthy while pregnant or get your family turned around in their nutrition, you won’t want to miss it!

What I Refused at Prenatal Appointments

The “refused” is in past tense because currently, for baby no. 4, I have a certified nurse midwife for the first time ever, and the experience has been totally different.

But I was in regular OB offices for the other three, so I got pretty well-versed at what I wanted to refuse (and those changed over the pregnancies as well as I read more and educated myself on what standards and norms are really necessary, what are just fluff, and what might actually be harmful).

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, M.D. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

1. Prenatal Vitamins and Other Ways to Get Enough Nutrients

This is definitely one subject on which I’ve changed a lot over the years, although I was wary of prenatal vitamins even with my first pregnancy. Why? I had just read the list of the artificial colors a pregnant woman should avoid, which included yellow number 6. Guess where I found it, among dozens of places? The prenatal vitamins. That didn’t make sense to me! (But I took them anyway. I didn’t have enough practice saying “NO” yet I guess…)

I don’t think minerals made from rocks are the best for our bodies and vitamins packed so solidly together rarely are digested well anyway, I went an alternative route with number three. I was told with baby two that the big difference between prescription prenatals and over-the-counter versions is that you can get the recommended 1200 mcg of folic acid only in a prescription; OTCs just have 800.

Folic acid is of particular importance the first trimester to avoid spinal bifida, so I went a 50/50 route: one bottle of prescription prenatals and some Garden of Life “raw” vitamins made from actual foods, taking them each every other day. And I ate spinach whenever I could, red meat, and liver (in capsule form mostly!). After first trimester I just stuck with my regular food-based vitamins and supplements, including fermented cod liver oil (FCLO is no longer irrefutably trustworthy, so do your research!).


For baby four, I ordered Folate 800 mcg (as Metafolin) Solgar 100 Tabsplain old folate for the first trimester, a brand I saw recommended on Chris Kresser’s site, and I made liver “pills” by cutting up raw liver into small pieces and freezing them on a cookie sheet. I’m embarrassed to admit how few times I remembered to take the liver lumps though. They’re not exactly as convenient as pills in a bottle!

Health tips when pregnant - Frozen Liver Pills

My tips to get them down:

  1. Cut small. Mine were a little large and scraped a bit going down, ugh.
  2. I found if I put 4 on a little plate or dish and left them for 5 minutes, they were still palatable but didn’t scrape. Much better!
  3. Just do it. Lots of water to chase, etc. Take at least four, but likely double that would be better!
  4. Of course: grassfed, organic liver ONLY. Hopefully you know your farmer already. Do NOT eat raw organ meats from a grocery store or random butcher. In fact, do not take my word for any of this. Do your own research and make sure you’re comfortable with the choices you’re making. I’m no expert, just another mom.

But seriously…just do the capsules. So. Much. Easier. On all sides! Use the code KS10 to get 10% off at Perfect Supplements, where they also carry the prenatal above, cod liver oil, and a great probiotic.

Did you know that essential oils have a shelf life?

Katie here, popping in to tell you that those essential oils that have been sitting in your cabinet for a couple years and are still half full may have expired. Read more about what I learned when researching this topic, and you can even have the handy printable I made to help me remember how long which oils last.

2. What to Consider About Extra Ultrasounds During Pregancy

ultrasound at 20 weeks - all that's necessary

With baby number three, we didn’t know the exact due date when we first conceived (NFP always allowed me to know perfectly before I ever called the doc with no. 1 and 2, but let’s say we were lazily charting when no. 3 came along!!). I could have had an ultrasound to determine gestational age at my first appointment. I said, “Nah, not necessary,” and the doctor said, “If we can’t hear the heartbeat at the next appointment, I’m going to make you get an ultrasound.”

Well. I was not impressed with that one. I postponed appointment two for two weeks just to make sure baby was old enough to get a strong heartbeat! I could have taken matters into my own hands a bit better if this awesome due date calculator from Mama Natural had been around then!

With baby four, shoot – I didn’t even decide on my provider or go to any appointments until…um…the first trimester was totally finished!

Any ultrasound exposes baby and mom to an external influence, and although we do the one standard at 20 weeks or so (for better or worse), I try not to do any extras. There’s some research (that I read years ago, sorry) that indicates ultrasounds may impact baby’s hearing eventually. Regardless of physical risk that may or may not exist, there’s the reality of “intervention leading to intervention” which can become a slippery slope.

My babies one and two both ended up with very late-term ultrasounds because I started measuring smaller, so when the exact same thing happened with baby three at around the same time, I had to say NO a lot on the extra ultrasound. Had he not been born on a Saturday the doc was going to ‘make’ me get one on Monday. Ha. Not gonna happen…

Guess who started tracking just a wee bit smaller starting at 36 weeks? That’s right, baby #4. Totally not surprised, and the midwife was totally not worried. I’m loving the new relaxed stance here…

Bet you’ve all heard of someone who was told they were going to have a huge baby (and maybe even induced early) because of a late-term ultrasound and then they had a six or seven pounder, right? I just heard that same sad story last night for the umpteenth time. It’s truly amazing how OFF those ultrasound measurements can be, and how much docs depend on them to make major medical decisions (like getting a baby out before s/he is “cooked” all the way in my opinion!).


Genevieve from Mama Natural offers great week 2 week pregnancy updates. I wish I had these when I was pregnant!

I’m so happy to introduce you to Genevieve from Mama Natural. I loved her video series for years before I met her and I’m proud now that our families have become dear friends. She’s such a sweet, genuine woman!

Not only do I love her weekly pregnancy updates, but she is now offering a Natural Baby Care Course. I wish I had this with mine!

Imagine having access to a team of expert health professionals in your home, whenever you need them, as you raise your newborn.

  • A holistic pediatrician to give you tips on what to feed your baby.
  • A board certified lactation consultant to help you master breastfeeding.
  • And a firefighter / CPR instructor to make you aware and prepared.

This is a masterclass in everyday baby care. You’ll be supported for ALL the challenges that come up with baby in this program.

  • It’s easy to access. Watch the classes on your own schedule. No traveling across town after a long day at work.
  • It’s comfortable. Learn in the privacy of your own home—no sterile classrooms filled with rows of uncomfortable chairs. Simply curl up in your favorite spot and soak it all in.
  • It’s fast, but comprehensive. Other baby care courses speed through the most important topics to cover it all. We don’t do that. Instead, we unpack all of the issues that come up postpartum, but we do so in small chunks so you can squeeze the education into your busy life.
  • It’s affordable. Our course is priced lower than in-person classes and less than most online alternatives as well.

More of a book person? You must check out Genevieve’s week-by-week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth. It’s the natural answer to “What to Expect” and soooo comprehensive and beautiful!!

3. We Skipped Genetic Testing During Pregnancy

5 standards we refuse when pregnant

Sometimes it’s invasive, which never seems natural, and no matter what my child was going to turn out like, I would want to accept him or her as a gift and not even be tempted to intervene in a pregnancy. This might be just a touch “green” and mostly my faith speaking, but it’s definitely something I refuse.

UPDATE: Commenters disagree with this one more than any other, for 2 very good reasons:

  1. As of 2014, testing can be done by blood test and not just amniocentesis. That’s not invasive, which is wonderful!
  2. If a baby does have an issue that may impact labor (or could be helped by immediate intervention after birth), knowing what’s going on helps medical teams be ready. Still a very personal decision, because it’s not always 100% accurate, but something I’d consider if ever given the opportunity again.

4. Just Say “No” to Extra Internal Exams

Any time something enters the vaginal tract, infection can occur. Near the end of pregnancy, an internal exam can also jump start labor, and I’d rather literally let nature run its course as much as possible.

I get the first exam, but as the due date approaches and the doc wants to “check me” every time, I decline. A woman can walk around at four centimeters dilated for three weeks, stay at nine centimeters for hours, or shoot from four to ten in 30 minutes.

I don’t feel like the knowledge of how things are “progressing” in there does anything but give false hope or stress me out (in labor), so I have always declined internal exams whenever possible.

Did you know that one? How much DO you know about that birth that is to come? Find out with this fun birth IQ quiz! (I was a Birth Master, but it’s ok if you are a Birth Novice – you have time to learn!)

5. Stripping Membranes Is Not Necessary for Labor to Progress

Standard procedures to reconsider when pregnant

This is days before giving birth to no. 3…

At the end of a pregnancy, many doctors will “strip” the bag of waters and/or break the water by puncturing the amniotic sac to get labor potentially started more quickly. I have friends whose children have been born with the sac intact, so it’s not like it’s necessary for the water to break for a healthy labor. My first two labors ended with the bag of waters breaking while already pushing.

Number three broke in the driveway…which is probably why he was born in the ER after about 2 minutes in the hospital!! That’s not an experience I want to repeat, talk about stressful and the antithesis of a peaceful, natural, lovely birth.

So I see no need to be reaching in there and doing anything to get labor going, no matter if it’s your first and you don’t know what to expect or your sixth. I want baby to stay in the womb and growing as long as both of our bodies sustain that healthy relationship.

This is the first in a five-part series. Here’s the rest:

For more of my older posts on pregnancy, since I hardly wrote anything this go ’round, here are all the pregnancy posts here at KS.

What do you find you say NO to at the doctor’s office during prenatal appointments?

Forgot One! The Orange Drink for Glucose Testing…

Enough readers pointed out that I totally missed one, so here’s a whole post on the orange glucose drink for gestational diabetes screening and your viable alternatives to it!

Safer alternatives to the glucose test when pregnant

This post includes affiliate links to Perfect Supplements.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

19 thoughts on “You Can Say NO to Your Doctor – 5 Standards We Refuse in the Womb”

  1. I think a key point missing is much of the genetic testing is simply testing the mother and father for certain things they might be carriers of. This is hugely important and beneficial. Knowing ahead of time that your baby might be a carrier or be affected by a genetic disease can help a new mom prepare in ways she otherwise wouldn’t be able to. A rare genetic disease runs in my family and had my sister known ahead of time it would have been significantly easier and less scary than a geneticist calling at 9pm asking if her 5 day old baby was still alive and if she could go check. During my pregnancy, being able to rule out that my baby would not have this genetic disease early on by simply having myself and my husband get a blood test was a no brainer. I think much of this post may only be applicable to the few very lucky ones who have easy, no issue, no genetic markers, no outliers, text book pregnancies. Many of us are not so fortunate.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I think the spirit of this post is to share what Katie herself declined and encourage people to consider whether or not certain procedures are necessary for them. It’s by no means prescriptive for every pregnancy. She does have an update that says more genetic testing is available via blood test now which is much less invasive and safer than the amniocentesis testing she refused. Certainly, there are situations where these things are necessary. Thank you for sharing your perspective Kelly!

  2. Some of these stories about women being harassed are awful. Drs are supposed to do a community service, not think they run the place and have authority over people. Like, excuse me, you’re just a gynecologist? You went to school a couple yrs to study vaginas. ? The patients are the ones visiting and filling their wallets. Not sure who some of these Drs think they are. And nonconsented procedures are really common for the gynecological field. These ppl need to be put back in their rightful place. Some ppl think they’re gods just bc they went to school a couple yrs.

  3. Sorry, but if you’re not a doctor, I’m not going to take any advice from you. I’d rather trust someone with 10+ years of medical experience and listen to what they have to say. Plus, if I refuse certain testing and something happens to my baby, I’d never forgive myself. Just because someone has 4 children doesn’t mean they know everything about pregnancy. Listen to your doctor before you just take one lady’s word on things you can say “no” to.

  4. Be grateful you’ve have all these healthy pregnancies. Some women can’t NOT get genetic testing, women like me who have had to go trough IVF. I used to be like you. I was you! I denied almost everything before during and after birth. I had my some with nothing and no interventions or crazy prenatal stuff, and I can remember thinking “why do women do that stuff???” I can remember feeling “superior” to them and that “they” were wrong and making horrible choices.
    Then we lost our daughter at 32 weeks, which before you say isn’t very common it is, it happens to over 30k babies a year. No known cause to her death but now a midwife won’t see me and I am “high risk” on top of fertility issues. Than I realized, I am NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. I hate seeing posts like this, making women who have no choice feel guilty for the path their on. I am 8 months pregnant with my rainbow child and I am getting ultrasounds everything month to monitor her growth and placenta and I don’t give AF. WHY? Because when push comes to shove I will do EVERYTHING in my power to keep this child alive ad trust me when I tell you that changes once you lose one. I would love for you to tell me that you’d deny ultrasounds after you’ve had an eptopic pregnancy, miscarriage, placental abruption, or had your 8 month old daughter die in your womb. I agree these things can be unnescassary but you NEED to add how blessed and lucky you are for NOT needing them. But then again, perhaps you just prayed harder than I did? In the meantime I suggest you lower your soapbox and start being more kind, understanding and compassionate….. A little like…. Jesus?

    1. I agree with you 100%. Thanks for speaking up. I’m so sorry for your loss of your little one at 8 months gestation. I don’t appreciate when people just assume everyone can have healthy pregnancies and children just because they did and by the way they did it. Every women and their bodies are different. If my sister would have said “no” to some of these things she would probably would not be here today. So thankful for doctors and their knowledge.

  5. The glucose test for me was TERRIBLE. I threw up and felt AWFUL for the rest of the day. they wanted me to redo it but I opted to prick my finger instead. With any subsequent babies I will definitely refuse the glucose test.

  6. Hi Katie, I am having a planned csection and the doctor said he would do a cervix check and papsmear at 36 weeks. I have crohns disease and with that comes severe perianal disease, tears fissures, fistulas, etc. So anything down there hurts so bad! So could I refuse the cervix check? Also do you refuse the papsmear at the 1st appt also? I just don’t see that it’s needed. Thanks

  7. Hello, when you took the folate were you also taking the garden of life prenatal 3x a day as well? Just wondering if that’s too much folate. Thank you.

  8. I’m all for promoting own choices and not being a sheep but first point did not sit easy with me. recommending people take liver and cod liver oil when pregnant is totally against medical advice. you should not go near liver at any point in pregnancy too much vit a. please if you are going to tell people (who can be sheep who are just following a different path) what to take do more research!

  9. Ok. So I’m one the apparently “evil” OBGYNs who happened by. I am actually a huge supporter of empowering women to have the birth experience that they desire within the measure of safety.

    I love dialog and education. I like to be asked questions, and I love to teach. I often review why we are doing what we do? Does it make sense? Is it evidence-based, and of what quality is that evidence?

    What disappointed me about the dialog here is how doctors are the “villains” attempting to cause harm, and if we don’t fall in line with your desires, we must be “ignorant.”

    I could share volumes of stories about home deliveries gone wrong, unmanaged medical conditions that led to tragedy, and refused exams and imaging that some women will regret for the rest of their lives. This, however, is not the platform.

    What I will share is this: I have devoted my life to the care of women. 13 years of study and training after high-school. I work no less than 12 hours per day. I take care of women in one of the poorest areas in the Southeast. I do CenteringPregnancy and additional prenatal education courses for women in the community who aren’t even my patients on my Saturdays off.

    I have NEVER attempted to harm any woman or her child, but I have seen many do harm to themselves and their children because they had become so alienated and distrustful of medical professionals.

    I completely respect an individual’s right to refuse any testing or treatment they desire, however, I don’t expect to be held liable or responsible for what you do not know you are refusing. Period. When you take your care into your own hands, do it wholeheartedly and without regret.

    Often what happens is women want to be in control until the situation is totally out of control, and then they wish for “the evil doctors” to rush in and “save the day” when life and/or limb is on the line. Then you want us to “take back” the responsibility, and some would have the nerve to hold a doctor liable for not be able to stop or clean up the train wreck!

    Thank God that I am giving grace for the job He has called me to! I’ve never been sued or blamed for anything thus far, but I will say that I have seen some utter disasters come through the ER doors, and part of me will want to turn and walk the other way, because I know the time I spend counseling women on the folly of rural home births. They arrive half-dead, and I get to stay up all night with them and their infants and worried husbands trying to keep them alive. Worrying about them, praying for them, and using every resource I have access to.

    We are so arrogant as young women. We assume that we are young and healthy and all will go well. My Grandmama told me years ago that labor and delivery is the most vulnerable state of health most women will ever see, and in those moments a woman has “one foot in the grave and one out.” This is why other women are called to bear witness and give assistance.

    So yes, you can say ‘No’ to your doctor. You can assert you power, treat him or her like the “evil,” “ignorant” person who is surely trying to deprive you of your birthing rights… But please remember there are ways to have any discussion and to negotiate for yourself. I teach my patients how to navigate the health care system, and even provide them a birth plan to be completed so I can drill special requests with the L&D nurses.

    No human being enjoys being placed in a box and labeled or falsely accused. I know MANY OBGYNS who reject paternalistic medical practice. So before you antagonistcally beat your chest and let out war crys, take a moment to think about it: who will you or even your CNM be calling when things go south….?

    We will be there, and we will perform “intervention after intervention” to make sure you go home alive with a live baby. Thankfully, most of us don’t hold grudges.

    Be blessed,
    Dr. J

    1. Hi Dr. J. and thank you SO much for visiting, for your respectful comment and especially for your service to women and babies. We appreciate you!!

      I love what your grandma said:
      “… labor and delivery is the most vulnerable state of health most women will ever see, and in those moments a woman has “one foot in the grave and one out.” This is why other women are called to bear witness and give assistance.”

      A beautiful and haunting assessment, to be sure. And accurate.

      I looked specifically in my post to make sure I didn’t call doctors “ignorant” or “evil villains” and I’m glad I didn’t! I’m very grateful for those in the medical profession; at the same time I believe there needs to be more dialogue. If I walked into your clinic and was given a birth plan and all the listening/educating I can tell you do, I’d be head over heels with joy. If everyone practiced like you, I wouldn’t have felt the need to write this post. My OB, who I chose carefully and actually did allow for some dialogue, really did say “Make you get an ultrasound” instead of continuing dialogue, and I admit that rubbed me the wrong way entirely, especially after I brought in charts to prove my twice-history of the same thing happening.

      I hope many women find your practice and your evidence-based perspective, and I’m grateful you stopped by today! It is my hope that most women read the post and think, “Yes, I do have a say, there can be dialogue,” and not, “Oh no, must fight the evil doctors!”


  10. I agree with being able to say ‘no’ more often. The only difference in opinion I have is with the genetic testing. I did not do any with my first 3 children in 2004, 05, and 07. But when it was brought up with baby 4 in 2014, I changed my mind after talking with my doctor. I always had the ‘Doesn’t matter if there is something different, it’s my child and I will love him/her’. With kids 1, 2 & 3, testing was still done only by amniocentesis. To me that’s very invasive. But by child #4 it’s a simple blood test. When I told my doctor my stance on it, he explained that some conditions that they test for could mean a different delivery scenerio for the safety of mom and baby. Whether that be with specialtist on hand or delivery at a specialty hospital (we live in a rural area). When he started explaining that, my view changed. It was a simple blood test that ensures they are delivering my baby the safest way possible. I truly believe every mom needs to do what is right for her and her baby. Go with your gut and don’t worry if others might not agree.

    Thanks for writing this article! Some people don’t realize that telling your doctor no, is an option.

  11. Raw livers should never be consumed, organic or otherwise.even if you know the farmers!!! A number of parasites reside in the live of animals. Look up liver flukes for starters… Not fun.. This is coming from a person professionally trained in parasites… Just trying to spread knowledge.

  12. I have to disagree with discouraging genetic testing. My husband and I opted out of it with our first pregnancy since we were both under 35. Little did we know that our baby was actually a partial molar pregnancy. This sent me into congestive heart failure due to extremely early onset preeclampsia. I spent two weeks in the hospital including an emergency flight to Stanford. I almost died due to genetic abnormalities. So I’m sorry but testing could save you and your babies life.

  13. Michaela Harris

    this is so helpful for future reference. I find it amazing how trusting so many people are of their doctor’s every suggestion. I don’t want to be a paranoid future mother, certainly, but I planned to be armed with information! 😉

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