Use Your Labor B.R.A.I.N.

If you have ever given birth, you know that it is unpredictable and birth plans can change. And if you haven’t, well, this blog is for you.

We often say that no two pregnancies are the same and no two births are alike; While your mother may have had 2 cesarean births because she has a small pelvis, your sister may have had 3 quick and “easy” deliveries. Your best friend could have had an unmedicated birth with her first, then had to have her waters broken and requested an epidural with her second. Birth plans often change and we need a game plan to help us make the right call:

We like to use the acronym, “B.R.A.I.N.” to help our clients.B.R.A.I.N. (1) It goes like this:

B- Benefits: Every intervention has a benefit; that it why we use them. We suggest you talk with your care provider about the benefits of the *intervention they are suggesting. Your doula should also know the benefits of most interventions. When agreeing to use a certain intervention, it can often be helpful to weigh the benefits against the risks when making your decision.

R- Risks: Just like every intervention has a benefit  they often also have some degree of risk (yes, even “natural” interventions). These risks can range anywhere from slight headache to life threatening injury or death. Knowing the risks of every intervention can help you make a decision that is best for your family.

A-Alternatives: Are there any alternative routes to get you to the same place? For example, your midwife/OB is suggesting that they artificially break your water, but you are curious if there is another way to help get a steadier contraction pattern. Your doula suggests you ask your midwife/OB if you can try walking stairs, rocking on the birth ball, or nipple stimulation. Alternatives are a great way to save the most invasive interventions for last resort.

I-Intuition: your intuition is your greatest ally. Some families like to pray about an intervention before making a decision, while others just need some time to think. Does this feel right to you? Do you feel safe?

N-Nothing: What if you do nothing, or delay the intervention for a certain amount of time? Let’s say you have been in active labor for 4 hours since your last pelvic exam (checking the dilation and effacement of your cervix). Your nurse would like to check to see if you have made any progress, but you wish to limit any pelvic exams since your waters have broken. You ask your nurse if you can wait until you feel the need to push. Doing nothing at all or delaying an intervention can be an option.

When writing your birth plan (if that is your thing) it’s a great idea to research the common interventions that happen in labor and delivery. Knowing for yourself what to expect can help you feel more confident in making decisions about these interventions. And having a doula by your side to help you remember everything that you learned, while you and your partner are busy bringing your new baby earth side is never a bad idea!

*An act that alters the course of a disease, injury, condition, or event by initiating a treatment or performing a procedure or surgery. Interventions can be medical such as an epidural or “natural” like using castor oil to begin onset of labor.

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