Decisions, Decisions, Decisions. We always have to make decisions in our lifetime. Once we become a parent, however, these decisions are no longer selfish ones (how does it affect “me”?) but also for the good of your baby and family (how does it affect him, her, us?). Such-decision making starts from conception (even when trying to conceive!) and continues lifelong.
It is important for mothers and fathers to keep in mind that decisions taken during pregnancy and leading up to birth are some of the first they take as PARENTS with regards to the well-being of their child (and the mother). Like with all life choices, it is empowering to make an informed choice / informed decision (which is not the same as informed consent), and so practicing this right from the start, can have beneficial effects on parenting in the future.
Making an informed decision starts with doing your own research, but also asking questions. Questions in pregnancy might include:
- Why is this being suggested (the reason)?
- How does the test/procedure happen?
- Are there or what are the alternatives (including waiting, doing nothing or other)?
- What are the risks to the mother? to the baby?
- Are there any side-effects to the treatment (short term or long term)?
To remember these types of questions you can use the acronym BRAIN:
B What are the Benefits?
R What are the Risks?
A What are the Alternatives?
I What are the Implications? And what does my Intuition tell me?
N What if we do Nothing?
BRAIN is important in making informed decisions and informed choices because:
- Risks may be inadvertently glossed over;
- Risks and benefits may not be explained in terms that are easily understood;
- Information cannot be absorbed at the time (such as during labour when the mother’s body and right brain are occupied with the birth of the baby, but it’s the left logical brain which has to make an informed decision).
Parents who pause to process the situation and use BRAIN to ask questions, know their options and are therefore a part of the process. Things are not happening TO them. In other words, by making an informed decision, you take control of your care which is just the first step in becoming an empowered, confident, parent.