Have you ever remembered a question you had wanted to ask… about five minutes AFTER you left a care provider’s office? Have you ever agreed to have something done to yourself or your child and later wanted to kick yourself for allowing that?
It can be very difficult for most people to think of all the questions they want answered when they’re on the spot. You are never more emotionally vested than when it comes to your children, especially when you’re seeing a doctor because your child is sick and you want to do the best thing for him or her. And you are rarely more vulnerable to suggestion than when you are in the emotional and hormonal throes of active labor or even in the immediate postpartum period.
It’s useful to remember this mantra in such situations: Use Your B.R.A.I.N.!
That way, when someone suggests a drug, test or procedure, you can ask:
- B: What are the Benefits of the drug/test/procedure that is being recommended?
- R: What are the Risks of the drug/test/procedure that is being recommended?
- A: What are the Alternatives to the drug/test/procedure that is being recommended?
- I: What does your Instinct tell you? Take a moment and listen to your gut – it’s usually right.
- N: Perhaps you Need more time? If it’s not urgent, maybe you want to do Nothing until you’ve done further research, sought a second opinion or waited a little bit longer for nature to take her course.
If you remember to use your BRAIN, you will at least have asked three very important questions to jumpstart your conversation with your provider or partner. When you have that information about the benefits, risks and alternatives, then you can tune into your gut, listen to your instinct, trust your intuition. You have that instinct for a reason and too often people silence their inner voice. You must listen to yourself before you can let yourself be heard.
Finally, you may need more time. One of the keys to feeling more empowered, even when you have to turn to plan B or make compromises, is making sure you feel you are being treated respectfully. If you feel rushed or bullied into a decision, or you don’t feel your concerns are adequately addressed, or you feel robbed of the opportunity to take a moment to talk with your partner privately, that can lead to feelings of anger, disappointment or even birth trauma later. In most cases, you do have time to wrap your head around the changing circumstances – it only takes a moment. You have the right to ask for a little more time (in situations that are not true emergencies!).
If you want to work out your questions or answers for a particular issue, here is a great Informed Consent Discussion Sheet that walks you through the process of using your BRAIN.
I probably sound like broken record on this in class sometimes, but it’s worth it: I’ve had both moms and dads let me know it came in very useful when they unexpectedly found themselves at the hospital with pre-term labor or discovered their baby turned breech or experienced other unexpected situations.
If you have an experience to share where you had to use your BRAIN in pregnancy or labor, please share! I’d love to hear it!