I was speaking with another expectant father this morning, and our conversation turned to decision-making during childbirth and the almost inevitable need to tell some health-care professional to stick it in their ear.
It’s always hard to tell a trained expert to shut up, slow down, and explain it again. Just think about when your mechanic tells you your car’s problem (and asks “do you want me to fix it?”) or the sewer guy says he’ll really need to dig up your front lawn to do it right. But amid the chaos of childbirth, it’s even harder.
Photo: Not really related to this post. Just a cute picture of The Lu.
That’s why we really latched onto an easy mnemonic for decision-making, based on the acronym BRAIN. Our childbirth-class instructor, Allison, passed along this scheme that’s useful whenever a doctor or nurse proposes an intervention of some sort that requires a decision. All you have to do is ask yourself — and better yet, ask out loud:
- B: What are the benefits of following this proposal?
- R: What are the risks of this proposal?
- A: What are the alternatives to the proposed intervention?
- I: What does my intuition (or instinct) say about it?
- N: What would happen if we do nothing right now?
One of the strengths of this rubric is that it exposes the alternatives, and there almost always are some! Slowing down enough to think through five questions at least makes it less likely that you’ll make a snap judgment, be cowed by the sheer insistence of a third party, or simply abdicate responsibility to the expert — and less likely that you’ll regret it later.
A year ago, Ann posted about this in discussion with her BabyFit friends, and made the wisecrack that she “was teasing [me] the other day about using it when deciding to changes lanes while driving.” But seriously, it does seem like a useful tool for making all kinds of decisions, not just in the maternity ward.
By the way, Allison, are you still out there? :)