There are few things in life that are less predictable than labor and birth. This is an overwhelming prospect for many people, especially those that want a solid plan for everything. Even with the best preparation and childbirth education classes, there may come a moment in your labor/birth where your provider asks to allow them to perform a procedure or intervention that you weren’t expecting.
Instead of freezing like a deer in headlights, and as long as it’s not a dire emergency, you can take a deep breath and use your B-R-A-I-N acronym to analyze the choice.
B is for BENEFIT. What is the benefit of this intervention? Is it going to help you achieve a goal you hoped for in your birth? Maybe you wanted to go without medication during your birth, but have reached a point of utter exhaustion. A benefit to an epidural at this stage is being able to get some much-needed rest and enter the pushing stage with more energy.
R is for RISK. Does this option involve risk to you or the baby? Does that risk outweigh any benefits you decided on in step 1? To continue our epidural example, one risk is the possibility of a sudden drop in blood pressure. You will be given a bag of fluids right before the epidural is placed to decrease the chance of this happening, but it is still a risk worth noting.
A is for ALTERNATIVE. Are there any alternative options that will achieve the same goal as this option? Do they sound better to you? A possible alternative to the epidural earlier in labor is a dose of a narcotic such as Nubain, which can help with pain without a full epidural.
I is for INSTINCT. One of the most important tools you have in any situation, but especially birth, is your instincts and intuition. What are they telling you to do in this situation? Sometimes you just need to trust your gut.
N is for NOTHING. What happens if you choose to do nothing? You (almost) always have the option to wait an hour or so and see how you’re feeling about things. Still unsure about the epidural? Try some alternatives for a while, then go back through the whole B-R-A-I-N process and see how you’re feeling now.
There are no right or wrong choices in birth.
You do the best you can with the information you have and make the choices that feel right for you at the time. The good thing about this acronym is that it can be used for almost any situation that comes up in the birth room. Go through it as many times as you need to.
A free printable handout
Because we know it can be overwhelming trying to remember all of the things while also trying to birth a human, we have provided a printable handout with a simple outline of the questions to ask yourself. We hope this helps and that you have an excellent birth experience!