The decisions surrounding pregnancy, birth and postpartum can feel utterly overwhelming at times. They range in significance from choosing baby shampoo to choosing a care provider. And sometimes, with hindsight, we feel we may have placed way more significance on relatively small decisions and didn’t spend enough time with the ones that have a far greater impact in the long run.

For some people these decisions come easily, falling neatly into place as they follow a path they feel sure of and are supported on. For others it can be a bumpier ride. One requiring research, experimentation and, often, profound self-discovery.

B.R.A.I.N. is a simple tool that is often discussed in antenatal books and classes in the context of labour, but can be applied in so many contexts along this journey that might call for informed decision-making – choosing a care provider; choosing where to give birth; having prenatal tests and/or scans; inducing or augmenting (speeding up) labour; taking medication before, during and after labour; feeding your baby; sleeping arrangements; having visitors after birth; having sex during pregnancy and postpartum, and so on.

So what does it stand for?

Benefits
What are the benefits of doing/not doing this?
Why is this being suggested/recommended?
Is it based on evidence or is it an opinion?
How does this apply to you and your specific circumstances?

Risks
What are the risks of doing/not doing this?
Is it based on evidence or is it an opinion?
How does this apply to you and your specific circumstances?

Alternatives
What are the alternatives?
What are the risks/benefits associated with them?

Intuition / Instinct
What feels right (or wrong) to you?
It is in our nature as humans to make decisions based on facts as well as emotions.

Nothing
What would happen if you did nothing – for an hour, a few days, a week? And then reassessed.
What are the risks and benefits of doing nothing?

Even if the answer isn’t 100% clear after going through this process, it can be so valuable in clarifying what is important to you as a birthing person, as a parent and as a human.