Sometimes when we’re dealing with people in a position of authority or someone who we class as more educated in a particular subject, we find it hard to question what they say. This is particularly the case with medical professionals. Doctors, midwives, obstetricians, nurses, and surgeons have all studied for years, not to mention having significantly more day-to-day experience of pregnancy and birth than your typical pregnant person!
What’s more, sometimes when medical professionals speak it sounds like they’re speaking another language. All this means that for many of us, myself included, the conversation can sometimes be very one-sided.
How might this affect us in pregnancy?
Being pregnant isn’t something we do all that often. Even if someone has two, three or more children, that’s still not exactly a regular activity! And some only have one baby. All in all, these types of medical conversations really don’t happen often.
When they do take place, they’re usually in a medical and unfamiliar setting and, unfortunately, tend to happen towards the end of pregnancy when emotions, anxiety and stress are more heightened for the pregnant person. This can often mean that a dialogue with medical staff is received as an instruction rather than a conversation.
Too often, through no one’s fault, pregnant people are given instructions and effectively become passive participants when it comes to dealing with medical staff.
Here are some examples:
- You are not allowed to go over 41 weeks.
- We will book you in for an induction at 41 weeks.
- You are not allowed to give birth in water.
- We need to do an internal examination to see how dilated you are.
- You are not allowed to eat or drink during labour.
The BRAIN method / Use your BRAIN
At The Positive Birth Group, we help you extract as much information from your medical team as possible, so YOU can make informed decisions about YOUR birth. We teach you to use your BRAIN.
BRAIN is a really simple acronym that will help you, not only in pregnancy but throughout your life, to ask the right questions so you can understand and make decisions for yourself. It stands for:
B – benefits.
R – risks.
A – alternatives.
I – instinct.
N – nothing.
How can you use the BRAIN method to open up a conversation with your medical professional?
Here are some examples:
If they say: You are not allowed to go over 41 weeks.
You ask: What are the benefits of this? And what are the risks?
If they say: We will book you in for an induction at 41 weeks.
You ask: What are the benefits of this? And what are the risks? What are the alternatives?
If they say: You are not allowed to give birth in water.
You ask: And what are the risks? What are the alternatives?
If they say: We need to do an internal examination to see how dilated you are.
You ask: Are there any alternatives to an internal examination?
If they say: You are not allowed to eat or drink during labour.
You ask: What are the risks of this? What does your instinct tell you?
But – why does N stand for “nothing”, I hear you say!
Well, if there is no medical emergency – if no one is in any danger – is it absolutely OK to do NOTHING and wait. This might be for anything from an hour to a few days. It’s OK to do nothing if that’s what you want to do.
Throughout Europe the only legal thing you have to do is register your baby within the stated time frame (usually between three and six weeks of the birth). Everything else is procedure, budgetary restrictions or opinion.
So, use your BRAIN. Have two-way conversations with your medical team to obtain all the facts for everything that is proposed to you. This will allow you to make the best decisions for you, your body and your baby.