Using BRAINS When Communicating with Your Care Provider

By Deena H. Blumenfeld, RYT, RPYT, LCCE

Lamaze is about life skills, not just labor skills.  In class you learn breathing, relaxation and massage, all of which can be used outside of your childbirth experience.  In class, we build your confidence in your own abilities.  Some of that confidence comes from learning how to talk to your care provider and express what it is that you want and need.  Some of that confidence comes from knowing that you are empowered to make decisions about your body and about your baby.

Effective communication with your care provider is one of the keys to having a good birth experience.  Being sure that what your care provider is suggesting is the best, most appropriate course of action is important.  Having full informed consent before any test, procedure or medication is given is not only important, but it’s the law.

One of the most effective decision making tools I’ve found is the acronym BRAINED or BRAINS.  When we use this tool, it better allows for collaborative decision making. This is how you can ensure that things are being done for you and not to you.


Benefits – How could the recommended course of action help me or my baby?
Risks – How could the recommended course of action harm me or my baby?
Alternatives – Are there any other courses of action I could consider?
Intuition – What are my gut feelings about this?
Nothing – What happens if I do nothing?
Evaluate – Can you give me some time to consider my choices? Then…
Decide – Now that I have the information I need, I’m ready to make a decision.



Benefits- How will this procedure benefit me and my baby?
Risks – What are the risks to me and my baby?
Alternatives – What are some other things we might try instead?
Instinct/Intuition – What is your gut telling you?
Now/Never/Nothing – What if we don’t do the procedure right now? What if we never do it? What if we do nothing?
Safety/Satisfaction – Will this procedure increase the safety and satisfaction of the birth for me and my baby?


By asking the BRAINS questions, you can feel confident in your choices during birth, and know that you are part of the decision making process, working collaboratively with your care provider to have the best possible outcome for both you and your baby.


Deena is a Certified Khalsa Way™ Prenatal Yoga Teacher and Lamaze® Certified Childbirth Educator. She has been practicing yoga for more than 15 years. She became a certified Yoga instructor through 3rd Street Yoga in December 2008. She completed her 60 hour Prenatal Yoga training in February 2009 in Los Angeles at Golden Bridge Yoga with Gurmukh.

Her Lamaze certification was completed in October 2010, through Magee Women’s Hospital and Lamaze International. She is an advocate of empowered birth for women. Through the teaching of Prenatal Yoga and Childbirth Education classes, she helps women become more confident in their choices regarding pregnancy, birth and parenthood. 

Deena is also a mom of two – a son, born via c-section in April 2005, and a daughter in March 2009, a VBAC. She is an active member of the local ICAN chapter and a member of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.


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  1. [...] This article on pregnant moms communicating with a care provider. [...]

  2. [...] manner I always have. I give parents the best evidence-based information, tell them to use their BRAINS questions and let them go with what their hearts, and their heads, tell them is best for mother and baby. As [...]

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