Updated: Jul 12
Decisions ... Decisions ...
Two factors have been shown to have an impact on a woman’s experience of childbirth. Guess what you think they might be … maybe whether she had access to a birth pool or that her birth partner knew how to massage her back?
Whilst they both sound amazing for mum, studies have shown that what women value the most during labour and birth are a supportive relationship with care givers and
a sense of control over decisions that are made in childbirth (1)
Is that surprising? I would say no, not when you think about it. Childbirth is a huge life event like moving house and getting married. Would you play a passive role in organising your own wedding or would you like your opinions on the flowers, the venue or the cake heard and acknowledged?
Let me introduce you to BRIAN. Brian is a pretty smart guy, because he has realised that when he uses his BRAIN it really helps him make sure he knows all his options and that he has all the facts so he can make an informed decision about the birth experience.
BRAIN is a decision making tool which, thanks to the persistence of the MVP (Maternity Voices Partnership) in NHS Lothian, is now advocated by my local maternity units. Posters are being put up and mums-to-be given BRAIN stickers on their maternity notes, letting them know it is ok to
ask questions and be comfortable in the choices
they make for labour and birth.
NHS Lothian want you to be at the centre of all decisions about your maternity care. It is important that you have meaningful conversations about your options with your midwife or doctor and that you talk about what matters to you." (NHS Lothian Maternity Services Facebook FEB 2022)
It is very rare in labour that decisions need to be made at such a pace that you do not have time have a dialogue with your care team. It is ok to ask them to explain terminology and procedures to you. It is ok to be treated as a unique individual with unique needs rather than slotting into the box of generic expectation.
Induction of Labour is an intervention that can promote many questions but it is worth getting all the facts before deciding if it is the right choice for you and your baby.
BRAIN in action
Benefits of Induction are …
Risks of Induction are …
Alternative to Induction are …
Instinct – gut feelings / what matters to me Nothing – do we have to act now
You are not being awkward or pushy for wanting to play an active role in decision making around your birth and on a birthprepwithjoy hypnobirthing antenatal course we will look effective communication. Being part of the decision-making process can:
Give you a sense of control on a potentially bumpy ride
Give you a better understanding of why things are happening
Increase your ownership of your experience
There has never been a better time to use your BRAIN as you will most likely remember your birth experience forever and wouldn't it be wonderful if those memories were great.
Cook, K. and Loomis, C. (2012) 'The Impact of Choice and Control on Women's Childbirth Experiences', The Journal of Perinatal Education, 21(3), 158-168.
Green, J. M. and Baston, H. A. (2003) ‘Feeling in Control During Labor: Concepts, Correlates, and Consequences,. Birth, 30(235–247). doi:10.1046/j.1523-536X.2003.00253.x.
Stevens, N.R. et al (2012) 'Perceived Control and Maternal Satisfaction with Childbirth: a Measure Development Study', Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 33(1), pp 15-24.