Decision Making & Using B.R.A.I.N.S. in Pregnancy and Labour. By Valentine Gardener & Susanna Dunnett Hypnobirthing & Antenatal teachers.

Pregnant bump

We want to talk about taking control and being at the centre of the decision making process surrounding your pregnancy and labour. The way we reflect or feel about our birth experience rarely has much to do with what happened during our labour or how we birthed our baby but instead how INFORMED we felt, how SUPPORTED we were and how IN CONTROL we felt.

The importance of understanding the implications of our choices cannot be underestimated. If we have all the information we need in order to make fully informed decisions we are putting ourselves at the centre of the decision-making process and can be sure the choices we are making are the right ones for us as individuals.


All too often we head blindly into birth with little understanding of both the physiology of birth nor the workings of the maternity system, handing our bodies over like rag dolls to have done to us whatever is necessary to get the baby out safely.

But a healthy baby is not all that matters, it is the bare minimum, a point from which to look upwards - what else matters? Mums matter, birth partners matter, midwives matter. So understanding what options you have, what choices YOU can make, is essential in ensuring you are in control of YOUR birth, you are well informed and you are well supported in those choices.

As well as having a voice in the birth room One tool we use to aid this in our Hypnobirthing courses is the 'BRAINS', acronym standing for Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Instinct, Intuition, Indication, Nothing and Smile.

Here we've included a free BRAINS download for you to use when making decisions about your pregnancy, labour and birth. Alongside each letter are a number of questions you can ask or consider in relation to the topic to help you make a fully informed decision about what is being proposed such as a medical intervention. From a membrane sweep or continuous fetal monitoring to an epidural or C-Section, any procedure or intervention will come with benefits and risks and alternative options.

You can also tune into your gut instinct and ask in your individual case, how what is being proposed, applies to you in particular. There's always the option to do nothing and wait a while or longer and smiling just makes the whole interaction much easier. We hope this tool helps you make decisions that feel right for you and your baby.


Valentine Gardener & Susanna Dunnett are Hampshire-based Hypnobirthing & Antenatal teachers who met during their training with KG Hypnobirthing in 2019, after the birth of their second babies. Now operating as Positive Birthing & Parenting and The Hampshire Birthing Company, respectively, Val and Suze work closely together, using each other as a sounding board, regularly comparing notes.