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  • Writer's pictureNutured Birth Ottawa

Need to make an informed decision during pregnancy or birth? Use your BRAIN!

A chalkboard with arrows pointing different directions to signify decision making in birth and how a birth doula can help you make informed decisions using the acronym BRAIN.
When it comes to helping our clients make informed consent during childbirth, we encourage our clients to use their brain!

For some, birth is transformational and empowering. For others, birth is a means to an end. Either way, making informed decisions during labour is crucial having a positive birth experience! It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of birth, especially when it comes time for decision making. When faced with choices about labour, one tool that we teach our clients is how to use the acronym BRAIN. Using the BRAIN acronym helps families navigate their options and make decisions that align with their values and preferences.

What is the BRAIN acronym?

The BRAIN acronym is a useful tool that can guide expectant parents when facing decisions during labor and childbirth. It stands for:

B is for Benefits - What are the benefits of this procedure or intervention?

R is for Risks - What are the risks of this procedure or intervention?

A is for Alternatives - Are there any alternatives to the proposed intervention?

I is for Intuition - What is your intuition telling you? Is your gut feeling telling you that this is the right decision?

N is for Nothing- What happens if you do nothing?

Let's break down each element of the BRAIN acronym and understand how it can help you make informed choices during labor.


When faced with a decision, ask your healthcare provider about the potential benefits of the suggested intervention. Understanding the positive outcomes can help you weigh the advantages against the disadvantages. For example, if considering pain medication, learn about how it can provide relief and enhance your comfort during labor.


Equally important is understanding the potential risks associated with the suggested intervention. Ask about the possible adverse effects for both you and your baby. By being aware of the risks involved, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your personal preferences and priorities.


It is important that you are aware of the available alternatives or options. Discuss with your healthcare provider about different approaches or techniques that may also be applicable to your specific situation. Having a range of alternatives empowers you to make choices that resonate with your birth preferences and values.


Listen to your gut! Trust yourself and pay attention to what your inner voice is telling you. Your intuition may guide you towards decisions that feel right for you and your baby. Share your thoughts and concerns with your healthcare provider, as they can help validate and support your intuition.


It's important to consider what happens if you choose to do nothing or postpone making a decision. Understanding the potential consequences of choosing to do nothing can help you weigh your options!

Remembering this acronym during labour and delivery will help you feel more prepared for important decision making! You can even write it down and have it with you so that you don't forget to ask these questions when they matter most.

This post was written by Ottawa Doula, and Ottawa Prenatal Nutritionist, Julia Davie. Her approach to birth work is heart centered, holistic and inclusive. She is honored to support families in Ottawa, Gatineau, and the surrounding areas.


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