One of the topics that I always discuss prenatally with my clients is the importance of making the choices that are right for them. I provide non-judgmental support and it's important to me that my clients understand that this is their birth and I am there to support them on their journey.
Birth is a complex process and what might be best in one situation may not be the best fit in another. That's why we can't talk in absolutes when it comes to birth, every birth is unique!
An important piece of feeling empowered during birth is being an active participant in any decision-making processes. My desire is for my clients to feel confident about the choices that they make during their birthing time and my role as a doula is to help them navigate their options, often by facilitating conversation with their health care providers, their doctors, midwives, or nurses.
Informed choice is important and you need knowledge about the options being presented in order to make a decision that you feel good about! B.R.A.I.N. is an easily remembered acronym that helps formulate questions to ask your care provider in order to obtain necessary information to consent to, or refuse any intervention that may be suggested.
Benefits - What are the benefits of this procedure? How will this help me/my baby/my labor?
Risks - What are the risks of this procedure? How might this negatively impact me/my baby/my labor?
Alternatives - What are the alternatives to this procedure? Are there other options available to me at this time?
Intuition - What are my instincts telling me about this situation?
Nothing - What if we do nothing at this time? What if we need more time to make a decision? What kind of timeframe are we dealing with for needing to make a decision?
These questions can be asked in a variety of situations such as while exploring options for prenatal testing, methods of induction, or interventions that may arise during your birthing time ranging from something as routine as I.V. fluids upon admission or something more invasive like artificial rupture of membranes. There is usually time to discuss these questions with your care provider, if not, that's when having a care provider you trust becomes even more important because you want to know that they understand your hopes and wishes for this birth and that they are making any quick decisions with these desires in mind.
When we discuss informed choice/BRAIN prenatally it seems very simple, but if it needs to be utilized during your birthing time it's often less straightforward. This is when it's helpful to have someone knowledgeable, like a doula, there to remind you of these questions and make sure that you have not only the information, but also the space that you need for you and your partner to make a choice about which you feel confident.