Making decisions in labour

Birth can be wonderfully unpredictable and it’s very useful to not be stuck fast to any one way of doing things.

Having said that though, researching and writing your birth preferences is a very important part of your birth preparation as it gets you thinking and talking about what is important to you in any given situation and if you find your birth journey changes course.

We are so fortunate to have wonderful expert medical care when we need it and sometimes we find the situation changes, or special circumstances arise during labour and your medical team may suggest a different course of action. You may find your midwife asking how you feel about this suggested course of action and it can be hard to know how to best proceed.

When it comes to birth, clarity is king and it is absolutely ok to communicate your preferences and, assuming it’s not an emergency situation, to ask as many questions as you feel are necessary.

Asking questions can help any decision be a fully informed one and can ensure you feel it is the right decision to make for you and your baby. This can all support a positive birth experience rather than one that is based around fear and the unknown and by asking useful questions you can maintain your sense of control by understanding that it is completely the right thing to do.

Often different midwives have different ways of doing things, after all they are human with their own set of experiences and approaches and there is rarely just one way of doing something.

It’s always worth getting your birth partner to gather the information, in order to discuss any suggestion with you, if there is time. Then you can speak to your midwife about all decisions being made.

Below are some suggestions:

1. What is wrong?

2. What do you suggest and why?

3. What would be the possible outcomes with and without this intervention?

4. How much time do we have to make a decision?

5. Are there any other courses of action open to us.

Explain that you will be guided by balanced, informative advice and you want a healthy baby and mother and will take all necessary steps to achieve this.

Another great questioning tool is the acronym BRAIN:

B: what are the benefits?

R: what are the risks?

A: are there alternatives?

I: essentially what’s my intuition/gut saying?

N: what if we do nothing? – can we have 10 minutes alone to chat through what you’ve just suggested? (obviously, assuming it’s not an emergency situation)

Remember you aren’t being antagonistic by trying to gather all the info you can about any suggestion or course of action that is offered to you…you are simply ensuring that you are involved in any decisions about you and your baby.

And if you do accept intervention and at any point this leads to the suggestion of more intervention, you can use your BRAIN again.

In fact, you can use your BRAIN if conversations around intervention are required before labour and I would always suggest you take someone with you to any appointments to talk things through with.

Use your BRAIN, be informed and make the right decisions for you and your baby.

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Sending positive birth vibes

Kate x

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