As it gets closer to the end of pregnancy, some of my clients worry about it, thinking that they won't be able to remember important pieces of their birth plan as labor progresses.
If this is you, first off, you're not alone. You aren't losing your brain function, but you may lose your metal sharpness because of lack of sleep or stress, says Jane Martin, MD, director of the Neuropsychological Testing and Evaluation Center at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center.
A tool I share with my clients is a way to respond to questions instead of reacting to them.
Respond - verb 1. to reply, 2. to react favorably
React - verb 1. to act in response to an agent or influence, 2. to act reciprocally upon each other, 3. to act in a reverse direction or manner, 4. to act in opposition
The tool is a handy acronym called B.R.A.I.N.
B.R.A.I.N. stands for Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, and Nothing.
Here's how it works. You are asked if you would like to have a procedure, for instance, having your membranes swept or stripped, to help induce labor. You can ask questions to determine your options through the B.R.A.I.N.
Benefits? Risks? Alternatives? Intuition? Nothing?
A conversation with your birth doula about membrane sweeps may go like this:
You are past your due date, and at your last appointment, your doctor mentioned she could strip your membranes if you have not gone into labor. You call your doula before going in, because, what? What's a membrane? Is it dirty? It needs to be swept out, or something?
So talk about it. The basic procedure is explained and B.R.A.I.N. is used.
B - Benefits
You ask your doula: What are the benefits of having your membrane swept?
She answers: It is possible that having your membrane swept will bring on labor.
R - Risks
You ask your doula: What are the risks to having my membrane swept?
She answers: Some women find the procedure to be painful, and it may inadvertently rupture your membranes (break your water.)
A - Alternatives
You ask your doula: What are the alternatives to having my membranes swept?
She answers: You can wait for labor to start on its own.
I - Intuition
Your doula asks you what your intuition is telling you? How are you feeling about this? Your doula should also reiterate that you have trust and a good relationship with your care provider, and whatever you choose is the correct decision for you. (Because your doula should be supporting you with non-judgemental support!)
N- Do Nothing
You ask your doula: What if I don't have want my membranes swept?
She answers: If you don't want your membranes swept, I encourage you to tell your care provider this BEFORE you have your vaginal exam at your next appointment.
I hope this makes sense. This isn't an exercise that favors natural birth over medicated birth. It doesn't favor midwifery care over OB care. It doesn't favor home birth over hospital births. This is you. This is a way for your values to be present at your birth. There is room for facts and evidence, but also for feeling and experience.
In the example, this conversation is happening with a doula. But guess what? You can do this WITH your doctor! You can do this with your partner. You can do this anytime! If you need to make a decision, this is a tool you can use. Heck, you don't even have to be pregnant!
My daughter isn't to an age where this exact form makes sense, but I know this will be a tool I will keep in my parenting bag. Because I hate to say it, but my "baby brain" didn't go away. I need all the help I can get as I move through this complex role as parent, wife, and business owner.
Let's use our BRAINs people!
Authored by A Swift Doula