How to Use Your B.R.A.I.N.

By Shellee Semrad

You took a pregnancy test and found it to be positive. YAY! Congratulations! You’ve planned. You’ve read. You’ve researched. You’ve stressed and cleaned and celebrated. And you’ve listened, (somewhat) patiently and graciously, as everyone and their dog has given you unsolicited advice. Everyone seems to have an opinion on your body, your pregnancy, your birth, your baby, your postpartum, and everything else they can possibly think of. Despite all the mixed reviews and advice, you muddle through and make decisions about what’s right for you and your baby.

Now, it’s time for the big day! You have a plan, and you know your options. You are confident that everything will go perfectly, the way you have imagined. There’s just one problem: life is unpredictable. Birth is unpredictable. The care provider comes in and tells you that things have changed. They want to intervene or they suggest helping things this along. Now’s the time to use your B.R.A.I.N.

What is B.R.A.I.N.?

B – BENEFITS: What are the BENEFITS of this intervention/procedure? How can it help you and/or your baby?

R – RISKS: What are the RISKS of this intervention/procedure? What are the potential side effects?

A – ALTERNATIVES: What are the ALTERNATIVES to this intervention/procedure? What are your other options? What are the benefits/risks of those options?

A -ALONE: “A” can also stand for ALONE. This is where you ask for some time alone to discuss things with your partner or think about what’s best for you and your baby.

I – INTUITION: What is your gut/your partner’s gut telling you? Your INTUITION is stronger than most people might think. It’s important to listen to it!

N – NOTHING: What happens if we do NOTHING? What if we wait an hour to see if anything changes?

Give your care provider the benefit of the doubt and assume they aren’t trying to ruin your day or your birth experience. You chose them for a reason, trust them. That being said, trust yourself too. It’s important for you to work with your provider to come up with the right choice for you, your baby, and your situation. Using the B.R.A.I.N. acronym can be helpful in facilitating a productive and civil conversation with your provider while at the same time helping you to keep a level head in a time that could be stressful and even scary. You may find this acronym to be a useful tool throughout your pregnancy, birth, and even well beyond.

So, remember, no matter what comes up, always use your B.R.A.I.N.

About Shellee

Shellee is a birth and bereavement doula, placenta specialist, breastfeeding specialist, birth photographer, and owner of Utah Family Doulas. She’s also a student midwife and working towards her IBCLC.

Shellee is married to the love of her life and has three sweet kids and one more on the way. She loves reading anything she can get her hands on and is addicted to half-baked ice cream.

Shellee believes the perfect birth is one where the family felt empowered and in control of their birth experience, as well as the health (mental, physical, and emotional) of the whole family. You can find Shellee and the rest of her team at