Answering the question: What is the BRAIN tool was promoted by a conversation I recently had with one of my clients.
When discussing her birth plans and preferences, I mentioned using the BRAIN method. This is a super tool to use when it comes to making decisions around what your care provider might ask during labour and birth. It’s worth noting that this method can also be used during conception, pregnancy and even parenting.
So, What is BRAIN?
I’m glad you asked.
BRAIN is an acronym:
B is for benefits
R is for risks
A is for alternatives
I is for intuition or instinct
and N is for nothing
Using this method can be super helpful when it comes to making an informed decision for anything that has been suggested or proposed to you during labour and birth.
That might look like using this acronym when asked if you’d like a vaginal examination or not, or when making a more serious decision like opting to have a c-section or belly birth.
Let me take you through each one.
B is for benefits: When in a situation when a decision or consent is needed, ask what are the benefits of what is being proposed? How will it benefit me and how will it benefit my baby? Equally, ask what are the benefits if I decline?
The next letter is R and stands for risks: Ask your care provider, what are the risks if I accept what is being suggested or proposed and what are the risks if I decline? Use these answers to make an informed decision on how you would like to proceed.
The next letter is A and stands for alternatives: Again, ask what are the alternatives? Often, there are many alternatives. Find out what they may be and see if they feel more aligned to you or are better for you and your baby.
I, stands for intuition or instinct: Both of these are really important. You are the only person who is going to be birthing this baby and feeling all the sensations that are happening inside your body. Tap into that intuition because that in itself is a powerful tool.
I wanted to look into the actual meanings of the words intuition and instinct, and so I Googled it.
Intuition is the ability to understand instinctively without the need for conscious reasoning.
Instinct is the way you naturally react or behave. It’s the natural ability that helps you decide what to do or how to act without thinking, so your gut instinct.
Finally, the letter N which stands for nothing. What happens if we do nothing? What happens if we give it a little bit more time? If there are no serious consequences to waiting, it might be better than jumping in and agreeing to interventions. Question, what happens if we wait 5 minutes or 30 minutes?
And in a nutshell, that’s BRAIN.
IDEA: You could spell out this acronym on different affirmations cards, or you could put it all on one affirmation and have it insight so you can make a quick reference to it anytime you need to.
So, remember, when you are being asked to make a decision about what is being suggested or proposed, be sure to weigh up the benefits, weigh up the risks, ask if there are alternatives, listen to your intuition and ask the question if doing nothing might helpful before giving your consent?
It’s important to mention that when you are also in the deep throes of labour, make sure that your birth partner or doula is aware of this tool too.
Then they can use it to get the information from you.
Make sure that you are armed with all the information you need to help guide you into making the decisions that are right for you and your baby.
It might be that this is the first time you’ve come across the BRAIN acronym, or it could be that you are very familiar with it. If you know someone who might benefit from knowing this information I also did a podcast episode – You can send them this link: Episode 19 of The Adventures of a Birth Photographer Podcast
Knowledge is power.
Also, I’ve tried very hard to find out who originally came up with this method and couldn’t find an answer. If you know, please let me know.
Before you go, would you like more birth resources?
Why not start by downloading my free birth in pictures Ebook?