When you complete your doula training, use this helpful acronym to encourage your clients make informed decisions for their birth.
Part of the role of the doula when hired for pregnancy and childbirth is to facilitate communication, help the client understand their choices during pregnancy and childbirth and how to advocate for themselves. But how can a doula best do that?
Two Key Components
Early on in your doula training, you will learn two very important things about the role of the doula:
- Doulas are educators. When you begin working with clients after your doula training, you will spend a lot of time educating them about what to expect during birth.
- Doulas don’t speak for their clients. Yes, doulas are advocates. However, we do not advocate for clients by being their voice. We advocate for them by keeping them informed and by reminding them to ask questions and speak up for themselves.
You’ll also learn that the best laid birth plans can, and often do, change. When a client needs to move away from their birth plan and make unexpected decisions about their care, you can help them feel confident in their decision by using their BRAIN.
This simple acronym helps your clients remember what you taught them during their prenatal visits, and encourages them to use their voice.
So, what exactly does BRAIN mean and how does it work?
BRAIN stands for:
- B – Benefits
- R – Risks
- A – Alternatives
- I – Intuition
- N – Not now, or nothing
Let’s look at a real-world scenario that you may experience after your doula training:
Your client’s labor progressing more slowly than they hoped. Their provider comes to check on them and offers to break their water to help get things moving. You remember your client had mentioned wanting to avoid artificial rupture of the membranes (AROM) during her prenatals. After gently reminding her of this, you can suggest that uses BRAIN before consenting to the procedure. From there, she’ll ask her provider a few questions:
- B – What are the benefits of breaking my water?
- R – What are the risks of breaking my water?
- A – Are there any other options available?
- I – What is my gut telling me to do?
- N – Can I take some time to think about it and discuss with my partner? What will happen if I choose to not to have my water broken?
After that, she will discuss with her partner and make a decision. BRAIN puts the ball in your client’s court and allows them to feel informed about their care, even if they make a decision that deviates from their original plan.
Although the concept behind BRAIN may seem obvious, sometimes it can be hard to remember in the heat of the moment. That’s why it will be important to talk about it with your client prior to labor, and why they may need a reminder in the moment. Regardless of how their labor progresses and what decisions they make, your clients will be glad to know they are being supported by someone whose doula training provided them with a thorough understanding of the birthing process.