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My guide to making every decision in #birth and life.**

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BRAIN

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Benefits
Risks
Alternatives
Intuition/Inner Circle
Nothing

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My clients (and anyone who knows me for that matter) have heard me espouse the long and short versions of this acronym more than anything else, coming in a close second to, “drink more water.” (It’s a good thing I give one helluva hip squeeze or else the entirety of my doula work pretty much ends there)

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The first step in the BRAIN method of decision making is asking the question, “Is this an emergency?” If the answer to that is yes, then ideally my clients have a baseline level of trust in their provider and previous knowledge to guide them when time is of the essence. So let's go ahead and get that out of the way. Emergencies are a different conversation.

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After it is established that it is not an emergency, we look at what is referred to in the acronym as the Benefits and Risks of any given option. Though this is, in reality, a trixie shorthand. What we are really talking about are the facts and figures on the definite pros, the possible pros, the definite cons, and the possible cons given to you from sources that you trust - medical professionals, #doula, #evidencebased research, your faith leaders, etc. The point is it is information you trust to be true and people to help you interpret it and apply it to your individual situation. Also known as #evidencebasedcare.

Very few things in life have definite (ie guaranteed) pros. There is no guarantee an epidural or a tub will relieve your pain. There is no guarantee that a fully unmedicated or cesarean birth will result in a healthy Mom and/or baby. But there are possible benefits that you may deem worth the risk of all the definite and possible cons. The only definite pro is that you will know you tried the option that was best in the moment.

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Then we look at alternatives. Keeping with the coping example, what coping techniques have we not utilized or can utilize again? What about IV pain meds, sterile water shots, or a cesarean (and then we would go through the B/R of those)?

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Then it is onto intuition/inner circle, the most overlooked of the factors IMHO. Intuition, what does your gut say? It isn’t anyone else’s body and it isn’t anyone else’s gut. What say you, gut?

Inner circle, your and your partner’s* own VALUES and PREFERENCES.  No decision in birth belongs to anyone but you, the birthing person. You’re the boss, you’re in control of making decisions. Even if your decision is to let others make the decisions. That giving up of control is in itself, in your control. Despite the verbiage we hear in many birth stories, no one is allowing you or letting you do anything. This is the piece that can take a fully weighted scale and tip it the other direction, facts and figures be damned.

*many decisions are made as a team, but at the end of the day, it's the birthing person’s body and the veto power remains with them and them alone.

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Last in the acronym is nothing. What if we do nothing? What if we just give it a little more time? What if we revisit this decision in an hour? A half hour? Tomorrow? A few days? A week? Weeks? (You get the gist)

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I honestly believe that if you make decisions with this method, you can’t make a “wrong” decision. Sure, you can make decisions that you look back on with that good ol’ 20/20 hindsight and wish you had done differently. But IN THAT MOMENT, when you knew everything you could have possibly known at that moment and made a call based on your values and preferences, you can know at the very least that you made the best decision you could given everything you had at that moment in time. That is all we can possibly ask for.

Go forth and live an intentional and decisive life.

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**Now, don’t go all extremist and use this with what to make for dinner or appetizer versus dessert (both, clearly). If it’s reversible or not going to cost life or limb or a huge life changing experience like Birth, pick something and move on. Get the damn potato skins.

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