Use Your B.R.A.I.N Acronym Tool
This information is especially for my sistas birthing in hospital settings! If you are already struggling with sharing your opinions and ideas during prenatal visits with your doctor, or unsure how to refuse non-medically necessary inductions and procedures, or you need a helpful way to be heard in medical settings then let me introduce you to a helpful tool.
The BRAIN acronym tool is all about using your voice to get necessary information to and from your healthcare provider and make informed decisions during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey. The BRAIN acronym tool can also be applied in other areas of your life where you may need to take a moment to consider your options and or refuse what's being suggested.
The uncomfortable truth is:
TOO MANY BLACK WOMEN ARE GOING UNHEARD AND BEING COERCED TO ACCEPT DIAGNOSIS, PROCEDURES, AND INDUCTIONS WITHOUT BEING PROPERLY ASSESSED AND INFORMED.
Before We Begin
I truly believe that there's an abundance of medical professionals who are ethical, lead with integrity, imperative care, and have the best intentions. And these professionals still need informed consent and still need to clarify and answer alllll of your questions to help you make the best decision for you and your family.
For example, say your doctor or midwife suggests an induction. This would be a great time to clarify the why. Inducing labor (also called labor induction) is when your provider gives you medicine or breaks your water to make labor start.
INDUCING YOUR LABOR KEY POINTS:
Your provider may recommend inducing labor if your health or your baby’s health is at risk or if you’re 2 weeks or more past your due date.
Inducing labor should only be for medical reasons. If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to wait for labor to start on its own.
If your provider recommends inducing labor, ask about waiting until at least 39 weeks to be induced so your baby has time to develop in the womb.
Ask first, "Is this an Emergency?" If no, then ask...
B stands for Benefits.
A helpful question you might ask is "how does this induction benefit me and my baby?"
R stands for Risks.
"What are the side effects?" or “What are the risks of this procedure?”. Hopefully, some of the risks your care provider might mention are an increased risk of cesarean birth, fetal distress and vacuum extraction.
A stands for Alternatives.
My favorite questions that I encourage pregnant people to ask in order to gain awareness of all of their options: "What are the alternatives that I can try FIRST?" and "What are my other options?"
**Then ask for time to process this info in private**
I stands for Intuition.
Honey, what is your GUT saying to you? Take a few moments with your partner and birth team to speak freely about how you're feeling, the alternatives, and potential outcomes. It's very effective for pregnant people to have supportive people amongst them as this is a vulnerable time, especially when faced with making decisions about medical procedures.
N stands for Negotiation.
Now that you’ve had a moment to take in all the information you’ve gathered, this is the moment where you and your care provider negotiate a decision that is as close to a win-win as possible. Perhaps, after speaking with your partner and birth team you decide you'd rather wait two weeks to see if labor would start spontaneously. Your care provider might say that waiting for spontaneous labor will be ok, but would be more comfortable only waiting another week before re-visiting the prospect of induction. Both parties were heard, perspectives and opinions were taken into consideration and a decision was made that both parties were happy with. Success!
Additional things to note when navigating informed consent in medical settings with your care provider, midwife, or nurse:
No person should give you a pelvic exam or manipulate your cervix without your consent.
No person should pressure you into an induction of labor, unless true medical necessity exists.
No person should pressure you to dilate faster for his or her own convenience.
No person should break your water or cut your perineum without consulting you first.
No person should rush you or intimidate you into making a decision.
You have the right to consent to and refuse any course of treatment that you feel is not in you or your baby's best interest.