BRAINED: Decision Making for Labor (and Life)

Labor can be an intense, stressful time. Many people go into the birth process with a "birth plan," or a list of ideals they wish to stick to. These are often well researched ideas the family is comfortable with. But what happens when suddenly your doctor comes in and says those ideas need to change? Whether the doctor suggests additional interventions or even talks about changing the type of delivery, sometimes births do not go as planned. How can you make such a potentially huge decision during a high-stress, vulnerable time? 

We like to use the BRAINED pneumonic to talk through these situations. It can be helpful to have a neutral third party (like a doula) to help walk through these steps, but it can be a handy tool for anyone to use for any decision.

So what is BRAINED?

B: Benefits

What are the benefits of the suggested choice? Are there more benefits than there would be with the current plan? Are the potential benefits worth changing plans?

R: Risks

What are the risks of the suggested choice? Does the risk level increase or decrease with the new choice? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? How severe are the potential risks?

A: Alternatives

Are there any other alternatives to consider? What are the alternatives? How do the alternatives compare to the current options?

I: Intuition

What does your gut feeling say? Intuition can be a powerful thing, and it is there for a reason.

N: Nothing

What happens if we decide to do nothing or stick with the original plan?

E: Evaluate

Evaluate these considerations as well as any other questions you have.

D: Decide

Decide what is the best option for you.


The BRAINED tool is most often used for labor decisions, but it's also great for really any life choice. Using this tool helps prevent making quick, emotional decisions by breaking down different considerations logically.