When faced with making decisions while in the midst of labouring all concept of rationale thought and the ability to process what is transpiring can be challenging and rather difficult for the labouring person and their partner. There are various tools that can support making informed choice and decisions a little easier to navigate.
One such tool that I can offer as a suggestion is called using your BRAIN! In this context BRAIN is a simple mnemonic question-asking tool that can be used to get the information you need, know your options and support decisions you make to get you to the outcome you are desiring. The result of this can be an empowered birth, using this tool for making decisions in any medical situation you find yourself in can empower you as an advocate for your health.
What is informed Consent or Decision Making?
When information is not given about what or why a medical procedure is being done, you need to know how to obtain information and know how to say yes, “consent”, or no, “decline”.
When care providers find themselves in a situation where they need to pass on information to you they do this in a way that walks through informed consent continuously through your care as events unfold. There could be situations that arise when this doesn't happen.
So how will you handle this? Even if an explanation is given, how will you know how to process it? How will you know what to decide? For this reason, it becomes very important that you AND your support people know how to obtain information, and make a decision of consent or decline.
How to make an Informed Decisions for an Empowered Birth?
Informed decision making really comes down to asking good questions. However, in the moment when you are focused on your labor and you are suddenly faced with vaginal exams, monitoring, IVs, medications, and other procedures or interventions, what are you going to do!?
It is quite challenging in such heightened physical and emotional moments to come up with a reasonable question in your head. That is where the “using your brain” tool comes in. BRAIN is a tool to remember what questions to ask. In any moment that you want to know and be included in what is going on medically with you, your labor, or your baby, you can use BRAIN to ask good questions.
Now be aware that in labor you are going to need help asking questions and stating what you want. That is why it is so important to have at least one, but ideally two, support people with you. This may include your partner, mother, friend, sister, doula, or whoever you can trust to serve you and feel safe with. Plan on having people who can help you be empowered!!!
With this in mind, let's go over what B R A I N stands for!
B = BENEFITS
The first question you’re going to ask is about the benefits. This is a way that you can understand why the medication, procedure, policy, test, or whatever it may be, is beneficial to you. What you will want to ask is, What is the benefit of this procedure? What problem will this solve? How is this going to help me, my labor, or my baby? It will be surprisingly helpful to know this information!
R = RISKS
Once you know how the procedure is going to help you, it’s important to know what are the possible consequences. You will want to know if a procedure or medication has adverse effects by asking….
What are the risks of this procedure? What are the side affects for me, my labor, or my baby? What if it doesn’t solve the problem, what is next?
It is good to know if an action or treatment could necessitate another action or treatment since the secondary actions may influence your decision for the first.
Once you have these two pieces of information alone, you can think through the benefits and the risks for you and your labor and your family and your body.
Ask yourself, Do the benefits outweigh the risks for me? Or do the risks outweigh the benefits for me?
Different people are going to feel differently and make different decisions for themselves. You indeed may feel differently than your doctor or midwife and that is okay. It is your right to choose to do or not to do a particular procedure, test, or treatment. If you do not wish to take the risks involved, you do not have to.
However, you must be able to state your wishes clearly and kindly, and on occasion if your refusal has serious risk involved, you may be asked to sign a document that you are “choosing to go against medical advice”.
A = ALTERNATIVES
There are almost always other options, even if the care provider doesn’t openly offer or prefer the other option…you may prefer it.
So you ask, What other options do I have to solve this problem for me, my labor, or my baby?
Then you may want to talk through the risks and benefits of those alternatives. And if you prefer one of the given options you can request to try that first. You will be amazed at how far this question can take you by simply knowing what is actually available to you when you ask.
I = INTUITION
A valuable component is your intuition and what your inner voice is telling you.
How do I feel about this procedure? What does my gut say? What is my partner's intuition saying?
If you’re not feeling quite right about something then you need to ask some more questions or ask for 5 minutes to talk with your support partner, centre yourself and allow space and time to assist you.
It is important to check in with your own heart and your support team’s heart to come to peace and confidence with your decision to consent or decline a presented medical procedure. Regardless of the outcome, taking that moment to check in with yourself emotionally and spiritually will significantly impact your feelings toward the decision that is made.
N = NOTHING
This is for the question, “What if we do nothing? What if we wait one hour? a day? a week? 10 minutes?”
This is a super important question and my favorite question in childbirth. It is my favorite because it will reveal to you the true urgency or non-urgency of a procedure.
When you ask “what happens if we do nothing right now?” or “what if we wait an hour?”, then you immediately get to see the emotional response of the doctor, midwife, or nurse. If their reaction appears nonchalant or even annoyed with a comment like, “well it’s just going to take more time” or “we’ll just have to wait and we’ll check back with you in an hour and probably do such-and-such then”, then you will know that the procedure is not medically necessary or urgent!
So, if you don’t want to do it, it’s not that vital to your health, your labor, or your baby. However, if you ask, “What if we do nothing? or what if we wait an hour?” and you see great concern, or you see that the doctor or midwife becomes very serious, strongly advising you otherwise, then you will know the actual urgency of the medical situation at hand and weigh that in your response.
This information allows you to feel confident in your consent, if given, knowing that you were aware of the situation and made a conscious decision instead of a serious intervention being made without you knowing why or later feeling that it was unnecessary. ‘What if we do nothing?’ gives a clear vision of the seriousness (or not) of the situation.
How does BRAIN support me with an Empowered Birth?
When you find yourself in a situation where you don't have a wealth of medical knowledge you generally will give yourself over to whatever your care providers are suggesting you should do. By using BRAIN this process will allow you to make empowered decisions and staying in the loop. You will learn in the moment what is happening, what things mean, and why it is significant or not. Ultimately, even if you agree or ‘consent’ to every procedure the doctor or midwife does, you will be much more satisfied with your experience if you are included in the process.
By having an informed process, things don’t just “happen to you”. By asking questions and voicing your thoughts you actively participate in your birth experience. Opting for becoming passive often leaves you feeling doubt or regret in your mind and heart after the birth of your child.
I hope you find this tool supportive and many blessings on your birth.
February 20, 2018 ~ Meghan J Paterson
The days and weeks following the birth of your child can allow for some of the most magical moments while you sit gazing at this being you've co-created. It can also be filled with elation, feelings of relief, over-the-moon in awe, exhausted beyond anything you've ever felt, unsettled and a little off kilter as your internal systems begin to shift. And maybe a little Hungry or a lot hungry, feeling like your body is craving nourishment.
If we consider the exertion, blood and fluid loss, and internal logistical of shifting organs, we can easily conclude that postpartum food is most beneficial when it is deeply nourishing and easy on the digestive tract. So if you're being asked about a meal-train or friends and family offering to bring you meals then here are some guidelines to share with them so the made-with-love food will benefit the needs of your postpartum body.
Five Characteristics of the Best PostPartum Food
• Hot-to-warm and moist/liquid
• Nutrient-dense (lots of good fats!)
• Easy-to-digest, spiced for digestion
• Enjoyable (of course!)
Good foods to nourish a postpartum mom
Plenty of purified water
Organic chicken and vegetable soup with plenty of fresh herbs
Greens!! Fresh salad greens, dark leafy greens, and green smoothies
Sweet vegetables (yams, squash, carrots, beets)
Raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
Raw almond butter
Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, oats, sweet brown rice, millet, teff)
Carminative herbs and spices (cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint, fennel seeds)
Raspberry leaf tea (raspberry leaf along with fennel help to contract the uterus)
Nettle tea enriches and increases milk production
Healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, fresh flax or fish oil)
Food to avoid during the postpartum period
Please keep this list in mind when selecting your recipes and their ingredients.
Citrus fruit, especially juices
Heavily spiced foods
Raw garlic and onions
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
Wheat / Gluten
Refined soy products
Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda)
I've included a few recipes which I hope bring you much nourishment during this amazing time in your life. If friends or family are asking to support coordinating meals here are some great sites to pass along.
November 20, 2017 ~ Meghan J Paterson
This mothering journey can unfold in a multitude of directions in any given moment of any given day, hour or minute. We hold ourselves in such high regard to be everything we possibly can, in all of the relationships we find ourselves in, especially the one we have with our children. I recently came across an article about the Mother Archetype and it resonated in such a deep way, that I felt sharing this may benefit others who are feeling the weight of motherhood.
The term "archetype" originates in ancient greek, the root words are archein, which means "original or old"; and typos which means "pattern or type". Together it's meaning is an "original pattern" of which all other similar persons, objects or concepts are copied, modelled or emulated. There are many different types of archetypes and they may present themselves in several ways with generally one being more dominate. So I propose to you to take a moment as you read, to check-in with yourself about what resonates for you.
Maybe you're the mother who must have everything in it's place before you have someone over, or maybe your home is cluttered and lived-in.
You might be spontaneous and free-spirited, or well-organized and a planner.
Maybe you like to fill your days by being busy and going out and about lots, or you enjoy being in the comfort of your home.
You may place fun high in your priorities or maybe you place education higher.
The truth is;
"You can do anything, but not everything."
~ Davin Allen
The thing is that whichever of these personality traits you find yourself nodding your head to doesn't reflect who you are as a mother. If we collectively come together with honesty and truth we will discover that we are all keeping it together the best we know how. Which is pretty unbelievable, may I just say. Our culture creates these archetypes that we feel we must fit ourselves into, when in actual fact if we all just took notice of who we truly are and what we offer to our relationships, there may be a chance that we can accept who we are as mothers and step into the truth of our own archetypes.
Figure out what you are good at and allow yourself to gravitate to that.
I am not very good at taking time for myself, so I schedule time during the week just for me. My husband travels a lot and living on an acreage means there's a ton to do, so I hire someone to support what needs to get done. Cleaning our home is not a priority, but thankfully it is for my husband.
However, I love to cook from scratch, so family dinners are an every night affair. I love being outside, so at every chance I am outside with our children, creating experiences. I' also enjoy growing food and medicinal plants, so I share this passion with my children.
Embracing your strengths and looking to others in your tribe and community, will free you up to be the mother you want to be. Be gentle with yourself, especially in those early days and weeks, as your mothering journey unfolds and you learn what resonates and what doesn't!
October 20, 2017 ~ Meghan J Paterson
As the darkness of Autumn begins to fall upon us and we draw into our unique hibernation rhythms we tend to transition during this time with a variety of alignments that can take a lot out of ourselves and our little ones.
I wanted to share my love for a herbal remedy that I make myself with Elderberries. Elderberries are one of my most-used go-to remedies for cooler months. The dried berries of the Sambucis Nigra plant are naturally high in immune-boosting compounds that are specifically shown to help beat cold and flu illness's more quickly. They can be used to make a variety of remedies, and my favorite is this simple elderberry syrup.
Be sure to wait until the fruit is a deep purple and juicy when squashed. There is a fine line when harvesting. You want to get them just before they are ready to fall off the bush by themselves because they are so ripe. Seeing the birds at the elderberries is another good sign that they are ready to harvest.
The easiest way to harvest them is to simply cut the entire bunch of berries from the bush. Wait until you’re back home to remove the individual berries from the stems.
Once home, there are a few ways to remove the berries from the stem. Some people like to use a fork to remove the berries. I prefer just using my hands. If the berries are as ripe as they should be, they will drop right off.
Both the flowers and berries are edible. One of the most important things to remember about elderberries is to never eat them raw.
According to the Botanical Safety Handbook:
"The raw and unripe fruit, the seeds, the bark, and the leaves of S. nigra and related species S. racemosa contain the cyanogenic glycoside sambunigrin, ingestion of which may cause vomiting or severe diarrhea."
I offer you this recipe to try and please let me know in the comments below if you have used Elderberry in the past to support your family and if you try this recipe be sure to share your thoughts on how it went.
September 12, 2017 ~ Meghan J Paterson
I sit in reflection of how far I've come in the creation of SacredCedar BirthWorks and my passion to support women in all facets of their mothering journey. As the summer season begins to ebb into the flow of fall I am called to write and share about the beautiful landscape that woman find themselves on as they open their thoughts, minds & body to the magic of becoming a mother!
I invite you on this mothering journey of exploration where it is my desire to share, inform, excite, support & honour the labyrinth that all mothers walk in all the different phases that we find ourselves on.
I will be sharing from my heart's experiences as a Mother of two, Breastfeeding Councillor, Holistic Birth & Postpartum Doula. Please share your thoughts, questions, wants & desires and I will be honoured to provide thoughtful information that will support all mothers to thrive and be nourished from the inside out.